David Kirkpatrick

September 30, 2010

Metamaterials and warp drives

Filed under: et.al., Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:20 pm

It’s almost time to call metamaterials simply that science fiction stuff. Usually you hear about metamaterials around these parts in posts about actual invisibility cloaking technology, and here’s one about metamaterials and warp drives. Metamaterials — turning science fiction into science fact …

From the link:

That means physicists can use metamaterials to simulate the universe itself and all the weird phenomenon of general relativity. We’ve looked at various attempts to recreate black holes, the Big Bang and even multiverses.

But there’s another thing that general relativity appears to allow: faster than light travel. In 1994, the Mexican physicist, Michael Alcubierre, realised that while relativity prevents faster-than-light travel relative to the fabric of spacetime, it places no restriction on the speed at which regions of spacetime can move relative to each other.

That suggests a way of building a warp drive. Alcubierre imagined a small volume of flat spacetime in which a spacecraft sits, surrounded by a bubble of spacetime that shrinks in the direction of travel, bringing your destination nearer, and stretches behind you. He showed that this shrinking and stretching could enable the bubble–and the spaceship it contained–to move at superluminal speeds.

Today, Igor Smolyaninov at the University of Maryland, points out that if these kinds of bubbles are possible in spacetime, then it ought to be possible to simulate them inside a metamaterial.

September 8, 2010

Graphene research may lead to electronics improvement

A fairly radical improvement. Try highly efficient, very-low-heat producing and smaller electronics devices. I enjoy blogging about nanotech research with real promise for market applications.

From the link:

NIST recently constructed the world’s most powerful and stable scanning-probe microscope, with an unprecedented combination of low temperature (as low as 10 millikelvin, or 10 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero), ultra-high vacuum and high . In the first measurements made with this instrument, the team has used its power to resolve the finest differences in the electron energies in graphene, atom-by-atom.

“Going to this resolution allows you to see new physics,” said Young Jae Song, a postdoctoral researcher who helped develop the instrument at NIST and make these first measurements.

And the new physics the team saw raises a few more questions about how the electrons behave in graphene than it answers.

Because of the geometry and electromagnetic properties of graphene’s structure, an electron in any given energy level populates four possible sublevels, called a “quartet.” Theorists have predicted that this quartet of levels would split into different energies when immersed in a magnetic field, but until recently there had not been an instrument sensitive enough to resolve these differences.

“When we increased the magnetic field at extreme low temperatures, we observed unexpectedly complex quantum behavior of the electrons,” said NIST Fellow Joseph Stroscio.

What is happening, according to Stroscio, appears to be a “many-body effect” in which electrons interact strongly with one another in ways that affect their energy levels.

July 3, 2010

Toward quantum computing

This news comes from the University of Maryland offering another advancement toward a quantum computer — something that is ways off yet — that involves nanotechnology.

The release:

UM Scientists Advance Quantum Computing & Energy Conversion Tech

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Using a unique hybrid nanostructure, University of Maryland researchers have shown a new type of light-matter interaction and also demonstrated the first full quantum control of qubit spin within very tiny colloidal nanostructures (a few nanometers), thus taking a key step forward in efforts to create a quantum computer.

Published in the July 1 issue of Nature, their research builds on work by the same Maryland research team published in March in the journal Science (3-26-10). According to the authors and outside experts, the new findings further advance the promise these new nanostructures hold for quantum computing and for new, more efficient, energy generation technologies (such as photovoltaic cells), as well as for other technologies that are based on light-matter interactions like biomarkers.

“The real breakthrough is that we use a new technology from materials science to ‘shed light’ on light-matter interactions and related quantum science in ways that we believe will have important applications in many areas, particularly energy conversion and storage and quantum computing,” said lead researcher Min Ouyang, an assistant professor in the department of physics and in the university’s Maryland NanoCenter. “In fact, our team already is applying our new understanding of nanoscale light-matter interactions and advancement of precise control of nanostructures to the development of a new type of photovoltaic cell that we expect to be significantly more efficient at converting light to electricity than are current cells.”

Ouyang and the other members of the University of Maryland team — research scientist Jiatao Zhang, and students Kwan Lee and Yun Tang — have created a patent-pending process that uses chemical thermodynamics to produce, in solution, a broad range of different combination materials, each with a shell of structurally perfect mono-crystal semiconductor around a metal core. In the research published in this week’s Nature, the researchers used hybrid metal/semiconductor nanostructures developed through this process to experimentally demonstrate “tunable resonant coupling” between a plasmon (from metal core) and an exciton (from semiconductor shell), with a resulting enhancement of the Optical Stark Effect. This effect was discovered some 60 years ago in studies of the interaction between light and atoms that showed light can be applied to modify atomic quantum states.

Nanostructures, Large Advances
“Metal-semiconductor heteronanostructures have been investigated intensely in the last few years with the metallic components used as nanoscale antennas to couple light much more effectively into and out of semiconductor nanoscale, light-emitters,” said Garnett W. Bryant, leader of the Quantum Processes and Metrology Group in the Atomic Physics Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). “The research led Min Ouyang shows that a novel heteronanostructure with the semiconductor surrounding the metallic nanoantenna can achieve the same goals. Such structures are very simple and much easier to make than previously attempted, greatly opening up possibilities for application. Most importantly, they have demonstrated that the light/matter coupling can be manipulated to achieve coherent quantum control of the semiconductor nanoemitters, a key requirement for quantum information processing,” said Bryant, who is not involved with this research. Bryant also is a scientist in the Joint Quantum Institute, a leading center of quantum science research that is a partnership between NIST and the University of Maryland.

Ouyang and his colleagues agree that their new findings were made possible by their crystal-metal hybrid nanostructures, which offer a number of benefits over the epitaxial structures used for previous work. Epitaxy has been the principle way to create single crystal semiconductors and related devices. The new research highlights the new capabilities of these UM nanostructures, made with a process that avoids two key constraints of epitaxy — a limit on deposition semiconductor layer thickness and a rigid requirement for “lattice matching.”

The Maryland scientists note that, in addition to the enhanced capabilities of their hybrid nanostructures, the method for producing them doesn’t require a clean room facility and the materials don’t have to be formed in a vacuum, the way those made by conventional epitaxy do. “Thus it also would be much simpler and cheaper for companies to mass produce products based on our hybrid nanostructures,” Ouyang said.

UM: Addressing Big Issues, Exploring Big Ideas
Every day University of Maryland faculty and student researchers are making a deep impact on the scientific, technological, political, social, security and environmental challenges facing our nation and world. Working in partnership with federal agencies, and international and industry collaborators, they are advancing knowledge and solutions in a areas such as climate change, global security, energy, public health, information technology, food safety and security, and space exploration.

—————-

Schematic of hybrid core-shell growth process

“Tailoring light-matter-spin interactions in colloidal hetero-nanostructures” Jiatao Zhang, Yun Tang, Kwan Lee, Min Ouyang, Nature, July 1, 2010.

This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Beckman Foundation. Facility support was from Maryland Nanocenter and its Nanoscale Imaging, Spectroscopy, and Properties Laboratory, which is supported in part by the NSF as a Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers shared experiment facility.

June 13, 2010

World Cup fans of Spain …

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:27 pm

don’t start celebrating just yet.

From the link:

The World Cup offers fans of the globe’s most popular sport the chance to thrill and agonize over the ups and downs of their nations’ teams. For scientists, whether or not they are fans, it’s another chance to collect data and test hypotheses about how close the final match results reflected the relative skill and performance of the two teams — and if they used the best possible winning strategies.

When the dust clears after the  concludes next month, it’s likely that the champion will not be the team that played the best, said Gerald Skinner, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Following up on a lunchroom discussion with his avid fan tablemates, Skinner, who admits not being a great sports enthusiast, published a research paper in 2009 that worked out the details of his claim using statistical techniques familiar to astronomers. The findings backed up his posturing.

“It’s not entirely a , but the result of an individual football match has got a very large element of chance and  in it,” said Skinner.

October 13, 2008

EMP-safe micro power grids

An answer for a vexing issue.  In the event of the unthinkable, or anything else, generating an electromagnetic pulse, these microgrids might offer a solution.

The release from last week:

Providing Power When There is None: Instant Access Networks, Frostburg Faculty Developing Renewable-Energy-Fueled Power Grids Safe From Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Imagine if electronic devices in the U.S. were disabled. Your car would not run. You couldn’t make a phone call. Television, radio, GPS, computers and their related financial and military systems could be down. Power could be out for as long as two years.

Sound far-fetched? A one-megaton nuclear bomb detonated 250 miles over Kansas could cripple many modern electronic devices and systems in the continental U.S. and take out the power grid for a long time.

“A rogue state or terrorist organization could easily acquire nuclear material for a smaller weapon for $20 million,” says Charles Manto, president of Instant Access Networks LLC (IAN). “That weapon could be fitted onto a Scud missile for as little as $100,000, fired and detonated 80 miles into the air and affect the entire U.S. east coast, causing up to $10 trillion in damage before you spend a nickel to fix anything.”

A solar storm similar to the one that occurred in 1859, which shorted out telegraph wires in the United States and Europe, could wreak havoc on electrical systems. Each of the above scenarios can create a powerful electromagnetic pulse that overloads electronic devices and systems.

IAN staff and Frostburg State University physics and engineering professor Hilkat Soysal are teaming — through a $165,000 project recently approved by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program — to create renewable energy-powered, electromagnetic pulse (EMP)-protected microgrids that could provide electricity for critical infrastructure facilities in the event of a disaster.

“The MIPS award enhances our commitment to renewable energy research,” says Frostburg State University President Jonathan C. Gibralter. “It builds upon the $738,000 Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF) award we just received from the Department of Energy and illustrates our interest in supporting workforce and economic development in western Maryland.”

IAN has developed a patent-pending shielding technology that encloses a room or similar structure and protects it from EMP events. IAN’s shielding, which includes electrically isolated layers of steel and aluminum, is up to 70 percent lighter than materials traditionally used by the military and other sources for EMP protection. This enables EMP-safe rooms to be portable.

IAN’s shielded rooms can protect mission-critical fiber optic network nodes and data or communication centers. They can also house generators, which, when several are connected, create a micro power grid, or microgrid, that can provide power to a campus or entire communities.

“A microgrid could easily power the city of Annapolis, a hospital, or the University of Maryland campus,” says Manto. “The idea is to create islands of power to reduce the cascading effects of a wide-scale failure.”

The challenge is finding a long-term energy source for microgrids, as it could take years to rebuild power infrastructure after a strong EMP event. That is where the MIPS project comes in.

Soysal’s research team will evaluate wind and solar solutions and the optimal locations for them in western Maryland and the surrounding region. “FSU physics and engineering faculty Oguz Soysal and Eric Moore will guide a group of students to evaluate the energy consumption profile of mission-critical facilities and infrastructures, identify the wind and solar energy potential of possible sites, and develop an optimal design for the sustainable energy supply units and microgrid,” says Hilkat Soysal. FSU senior research fellow David Blank will provide prototype computer simulations for a next-generation multi-flex fuel generator that is 40 percent more efficient than traditional engines. The FSU team and IAN staff together will investigate additional renewable energy subsystems that the company can integrate into the EMP-protected microgrid.

“Long-term, renewable energy is critical for powering back-up electrical systems,” says Manto. “What’s more, in EMP scenarios the cost model for renewable energy changes because you have to eliminate the cheap, non-renewable fuels and the availability of the present electric grid. Renewable energy, even at a higher price, becomes cost-justified. We are effectively jump-starting alternative energy development.”

FSU is acquiring a residential-scale wind turbine for the project, which will be used to develop models for powering the microgrid. University researchers and IAN staff will also create designs to protect a wind turbine from an EMP attack.

FSU and IAN are also planning to build the nation’s first EMP-protected business continuity park. It will be located next to the FSU Renewable Energy Center at the university and include input from the Public Technology Institute (PTI). The park will give urban area businesses and government agencies a remote place to backup their data and an alternative place to work in the wake of a disaster, in keeping with a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Federal Agencies are required to have COOPs as part of Federal Preparedness Circular 65. Businesses and other entities are recommended to do the same through the National Fire Protection Agency’s code 1600 for business continuity. PTI plans to review the EMP-protected business continuity concept among local governments nationwide.

“Assisting local governments in creating COOP plans that protect them from natural and human-caused disasters requires innovation and support from a variety of entities,” says PTI Executive Director Alan Shark. “We are excited to be part of this team working on this groundbreaking project.”

Based in Frostburg, IAN was founded in 2004 through $1 million in seed money from IAN staff and private investors. The company received a $70,000 TEDCO Maryland Technology Transfer Fund grant in July, 2007 to develop prototypes of lightweight shielding systems that can be mass-produced and offer critical infrastructure protection from electromagnetic interference.

For photos of IAN staff and mobile EMP-protected rooms, visit http://www.mtech.umd.edu/IAN. More information about renewable energy related activities at FSU can be found at http://www.frostburg.edu/renewable/.

  More information
  --  Instant Access Networks: http://stop-emp.com/
 -- Initial Economic Assessment of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)Impact upon the
    Baltimore-Washington-Richmond Region by The Sage Policy Group: http://stop-emp.com/econimpact.pdf
 -- CRS Report for Congress: High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP)
    and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments: http://stop-emp.com/crs.pdf
 -- Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States
    from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: http://stop-emp.com/EMPCExecRpt_Final072204.pdf
 -- Frostburg State University: www.frostburg.edu About MIPS (www.mips.umd.edu)

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), brings university innovation to the commercial sector by supporting university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Through MIPS, faculty members engage in research that furthers the development of high-tech products for Maryland companies. Projects must be technology-focused and possess commercial potential. Both the company and the University of Maryland contribute funding for each project. All funding goes to the participating faculty.

ABOUT PTI (www.pti.org)

Public Technology Institute is a national, member-supported organization based in Washington, D.C. As the only technology organization created by and for cities and counties, PTI works with a core network of leading local government officials — the PTI membership — to identify opportunities for research, share best practices, offer consultancies and pilot demonstrations, promote technology development initiatives and present educational programming.

Source: University of Maryland

 

Web Site: http://www.mips.umd.edu/
http://www.pti.org/

August 10, 2008

Third Law of Thermodynamics and ice

Really cool press release from the Clark School of Engineering on how H2O in the form of ice violates the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Looks like this research might have other applications, including hard drive storage, down the road.

The release with image:

(a) A TEM image of the artificial spin ice created by the Cumings group. (b) a close-up image of a small region of the artificial spin ice. Each link is only 500 nm in length. (c) A Lorentz TEM image of the same region as (b). Here the magnetic direction can be determined by the bright and dark lines in each link. Despite showing disordered configurations, each vertex obeys the ice rule. (Cumings research group, U-Md.)
(a) A TEM image of the artificial spin ice created by the Cumings group. (b) a close-up image of a small region of the artificial spin ice. Each link is only 500 nm in length. (c) A Lorentz TEM image of the same region as (b). Here the magnetic direction can be determined by the bright and dark lines in each link. Despite showing disordered configurations, each vertex obeys the ice rule. (Cumings research group, U-Md.)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2008

“Ye canna change the laws of physics!” Scotty warned Captain Kirk on “Star Trek.” But engineers and physicists at the University of Maryland may rewrite one of them.

The Third Law of Thermodynamicsis on the minds of John Cumings, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, and his research group as they examine the crystal lattice structure of ice and seek to define exactly what happens when it freezes.

“Developing an accurate model of ice would help architects, civil engineers, and environmental engineers understand what happens to structures and systems exposed to freezing conditions,” Cumings said. “It could also help us understand and better predict the movement of glaciers.”

Understanding the freezing process is not as straightforward as it may seem. The team had to develop a type of pseudo-ice, rather than using real ice, in order to do it.

Despite being one of the most abundant materials on Earth, water, particularly how it freezes, is not completely understood. Most people learn that as temperatures fall, water molecules move more slowly, and that at temperatures below 32º F/0º C, they lock into position, creating a solid—ice. What’s going on at a molecular level, says Cumings, is far more complicated and problematic. For one thing, it seems to be in conflict with a fundamental law of physics.

The Third Law of Thermodynamics states that as the temperature of a pure substance moves toward absolute zero (the mathematically lowest temperature possible) its entropy, or the disorderly behavior of its molecules, also approaches zero. The molecules should line up in an orderly fashion.

Ice seems to be the exception to that rule. While the oxygen atoms in ice freeze into an ordered crystalline structure, its hydrogen atoms do not.

“The hydrogen atoms stop moving,” Cumings explains, “but they just stop where they happen to lie, in different configurations throughout the crystal with no correlation between them, and no single one lowers the energy enough to take over and reduce the entropy to zero.”

So is the Third Law truly a law, or more of a guideline?

“It’s a big fundamental question,” says Cumings. “If there’s an exception, it’s a rule of thumb.”

Materials that violated the Third Law as originally written were found in the 1930s, mainly non-crystalline substances such as glasses and polymers. The Third Law was rewritten to say that all pure crystalline materials’ entropy moves toward zero as their temperatures move toward absolute zero. Ice is crystalline—but it seems only its oxygen atoms obey the Law. Over extremely long periods of time and at extremely low temperatures, however, ice may fully order itself, but this is something scientists have yet to prove.

Creating an accurate model of ice to study has been difficult. The study of ice’s crystal lattice requires precise maintenance of temperatures below that of liquid nitrogen (-321 °F/-196 °C), and also a lot of time: no one knows how long it takes for ice to ultimately reach an ordered state—or if it does at all. Experiments have shown that if potassium hydroxide is added to water, it will crystallize in an ordered way—but researchers don’t know why, and the addition shouldn’t be necessary due to the Third Law’s assertion that pure substances should be ordered as they freeze.

To overcome these problems, scientists have designed meta-materials, which attempt to mimic the behavior of ice, but are created out of completely different substances. A previous material, spin ice, was designed from rare earth elements and had a molecular structure resembling ice, with magnetic atoms (spins) representing the position of hydrogen atoms. However, it did not always behave like ice.

The Cumings group is refining a successor to spin ice called artificial spin ice, which was originally pioneered by researchers at Penn State. The newer meta-material takes the idea a step further.

“The original spin ice research went from one part of the periodic table to a more flexible one,” said Cumings. “But artificial spin ice goes off the periodic table altogether.”

Artificial spin ice is a collection of “pseudo-atoms” made of a nickel-iron alloy. Each pseudo-atom is a large-scale model made out of millions of atoms whose collective behavior mimics that of a single one.

As with the original spin ice, magnetic fields are stand-ins for hydrogen atoms. Working at this “large” scale—each pseudo-atom is 100×30 nanometers in size (100 nanometers is 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair)—gives the researchers control over the material and freedom to explore how real atoms behave.

“It mimics the behavior of real ice but is completely designable with specific properties,” Cumings said. “We can change the strength of the spin or reformulate the alloy to change the magnetic properties, which creates new bulk properties that we either couldn’t get from normal materials, or couldn’t control at the atomic level.”

The team is also able to image the behavior of the pseudo hydrogen atoms using an electron microscope—such direct observation is not possible with the original spin ice or real ice.

“This is the first time the rules of ice behavior have ever been rigorously confirmed by directly counting pseudo hydrogen atoms,” explained group member and postdoctoral research associate Todd Brintlinger. “We can track the position and movement of each pseudo atom in our model, see where defects occur in the lattice, and simulate what happens over much longer periods of time.”

The ultimate impact of the research may go beyond civil engineering and the environment. “Although we’re mimicking the behavior of ice,” Cumings explained, “our meta-material is very similar to patterned hard-disk media. Magnetic ‘bits’ used in hard drives are usually placed at random, but memory density could be increased if they were in a tight, regular pattern instead.

“We’ve found that both hydrogen in ice and the pseudo-hydrogen in our artificial spin ice also behave as bits, can carry information, and interact with each other. Perhaps in the future, engineers will be inspired by this in their hard drive designs. The formal patterning and bit interactions may actually help to stabilize information, ultimately leading to drives with much higher capacities.”

More Information:
Research Spotlight
Cumings Homepage

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering
The Clark School of Engineering, situated on the rolling, 1,500-acre University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md., is one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S.

The Clark School’s graduate programs are collectively the fastest rising in the nation. In U.S. News & World Report‘s annual rating of graduate programs, the school is 17th among public and private programs nationally, 11th among public programs nationally and first among public programs in the mid-Atlantic region. The School offers 13 graduate programs and 12 undergraduate programs, including degree and certification programs tailored for working professionals.

The school is home to one of the most vibrant research programs in the country. With major emphasis in key areas such as communications and networking, nanotechnology, bioengineering, reliability engineering, project management, intelligent transportation systems and space robotics, as well as electronic packaging and smart small systems and materials, the Clark School is leading the way toward the next generations of engineering advances.

Visit the Clark School homepage at www.eng.umd.edu.

 

###

Glossary

meta-material: a “stand-in” material designed to mimic the behavior of another, particularly one that is difficult to work with. Meta-materials have the same properties as the original, but while the original’s properties come from its chemical composition, the meta-material’s properties come from its structure.

nanometer: one billionth of a meter. There are 25.4 million nanometers to an inch.

potassium hydroxide (KOH): a solution of the elements potassium, hydrogen and oxygen. It is often used in soap, bleach and paint remover, and is also found in fertilizers and alkaline batteries.

thermodynamics: a branch of science that studies the relationship between heat and other forms of energy, and their response to changes in temperature, pressure, density, and volume.

July 18, 2008

The Earth as viewed from space

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:41 pm

This is insanely cool. NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft turned its cameras back toward the Earth to record images and video of our planet from space.

Here’s the press release from NASA:

PRESS RELEASE: 08-68

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft has created a video of the moon transiting (passing in front of) Earth as seen from the spacecraft’s point of view 31 million miles away. Scientists are using the video to develop techniques to study alien worlds.

“Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us,” said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A’Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact extended mission, called EPOXI.

Deep Impact made history when the mission team directed an impactor from the spacecraft into comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005. NASA recently extended the mission, redirecting the spacecraft for a flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010.

EPOXI is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: a search for alien (extrasolar) planets during the cruise to Hartley 2, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI).

During a full Earth rotation, images obtained by Deep Impact at a 15-minute cadence have been combined to make a color video. During the video, the moon enters the frame (because of its orbital motion) and transits Earth, then leaves the frame. Other spacecraft have imaged Earth and the moon from space, but Deep Impact is the first to show a transit of Earth with enough detail to see large craters on the moon and oceans and continents on Earth.

“To image Earth in a similar fashion, an alien civilization would need technology far beyond what Earthlings can even dream of building,” said Sara Seager, a planetary theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and a co-investigator on EPOXI. “Nevertheless, planet-characterizing space telescopes under study by NASA would be able to observe an Earth twin as a single point of light — a point whose total brightness changes with time as different land masses and oceans rotate in and out of view. The video will help us connect a varying point of planetary light with underlying oceans, continents, and clouds — and finding oceans on extrasolar planets means identifying potentially habitable worlds.” said Seager.

“Our video shows some specific features that are important for observations of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars,” said Drake Deming of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Deming is deputy principal investigator for EPOXI, and leads the EPOCh observations. “A ‘sun glint’ can be seen in the movie, caused by light reflected from Earth’s oceans, and similar glints to be observed from extrasolar planets could indicate alien oceans. Also, we used infrared light instead of the normal red light to make the color composite images, and that makes the land masses much more visible.” That happens because plants reflect more strongly in the near-infrared, Deming explained. Hence the video illustrates the potential for detecting vegetated land masses on extrasolar planets by looking for variations in the intensity of their near-infrared light as the planet rotates.

The University of Maryland is the Principal Investigator institution, leading the overall EPOXI mission, including the flyby of comet Hartley 2. NASA Goddard leads the extrasolar planet observations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages EPOXI for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Here’s links to videos of the Earth and moon:

These videos, captured by NASA’s EPOXI spacecraft, show the moon passing across the face of Earth. The two videos show Earth observed at different light wavelengths, which is why differences in details are visible. The first version used a red-green-blue filter; the second, an infrared-green-blue.
Videos credit: Donald J. Lindler, Sigma Space Corporation/GSFC; EPOCh/DIXI Science Teams
> Watch Video 1
> Watch Video 2

And a photo:

Series of images showing the Moon transiting Earth, captured by NASA’s EPOXI spacecraft.
Credit: Donald J. Lindler, Sigma Space Corporation/GSFC; EPOCh/DIXI Science Teams

June 26, 2008

Quantum images

From KurzweilAI.net:

Physicists Produce Quantum-Entangled Images
PhysOrg.com, June 25, 2008

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland (UM) have produced “quantum images,” pairs of information-rich visual patterns whose features are entangled (linked by the laws of quantum physics).


(NIST)

Matching up both quantum images and subtracting their fluctuations, their noise is lower (so their information content potentially higher) than it is from any two classical images.

In addition to promising better detection of faint objects and improved amplification and positioning of light beams, the researchers’ technique for producing quantum images may someday be useful for storing patterns of data in quantum computers and transmitting large amounts of highly secure encrypted information.
 
Read Original Article>>

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