Thursday, January 05, 2012

Quantum Critical for the New Year

Feeling Quantum Critical for the New Year

Over the last couple of years, Quantum researchers involved at Oxford and in Berlin are both perplexed and fascinated by what they have 'seen' in the details of their studies.
The implications for future technologies innumerable and it is only 1 atom wide!
So...What is this latest cosmos shaking observation from the Quantum field?
A kind of tiny fractal-like magnet made up of a string of certain (co­balt nio­bate) atoms magnetically spun under specific conditions using a neu­tron scat­ter­ing technique.
The big deal is a 'Quantum-nanocobaltfractalmagnet?' No. Not really. Well sort of.
The big deal is an observed effect/state called 'Quantum Critical'.
Di­a­gram of the neu­tron scat­ter­ing tech­nique
 used in the ex­per­i­ments.
. (Cred­it: Ten­nan­t
For those of you not familiar with elementary Quantum physics/mechanics, in a broad sense - I will give a boiled/dumbed down description: The study of the threshold and changes between matter and energy, usually on an atomic or sub atomic scale.
'Quantum' is not simply a (decent) James Bond film and has nothing to do with Australian Airlines (Qantas - also decent).
When scientists began to tackle these issues in the last century they came across 'the Quantum Enigma' of potentiality and 'super potentiality'. This is the aspect of the Quantum studies most interested people are familiar with.
 Schrödinger's cat and the slit box experiments that illustrate the influence of the 'observer' or conscious mind. An atom, it seems, only becomes a wave or particle when you want it to - and it can do both at once! Very 'spooky' stuff, as Albert Einstein noted.
Simply put: Quantum mechanics studies what happens when you change the pressures, magnetism, and temperatures of matter; it reveals and maps consistent effects and changes on the atomic level that eventually result in a change in state and a release of energy.
For example: Water heated becomes steam, while frozen becomes ice. The same can be said of exotic, radioactive, and super-conductive matter. All observable matter, it seems, goes through 'quantum phase transitions' into various 'states' when magnetism, pressure and temperature are dramatically altered. But we are not talking about water, and what happens is not a tray of ice-cubes.
In fact, it is often very strange indeed.
Some even quantum states seem to defy our understanding of nature and it's laws.
In recent decades supercooling has become a reality and much research has been done on super-chilled materials, like super-conductors. Researchers studying these changes and the phenomena associated with them have noted some very interesting observations that have lead to specific veins or disciplines within quantum study. Consider the research done at Tel Aviv university that produces a stasis like and levitation effect(see video link below).

Another and connected vein of this research is in magnetism. A new state known as the 'Quantum Critical' was discovered by research into the quantum effects of magnetism. It was found that a magnetized-spin, creating by a magnetic force being applied at right angles produces a quantum state in the material co­balt nio­bate that locks the potential of the atomic structure between wave and particle. When cobalt niobate is 'quantum critical', it is 'quantum uncertain' like the cat in Schrödinger's theoretical box, according to the lead Berlin researcher Al­an Ten­nant of the Helm­holtz Cen­ter for Ma­te­ri­als and En­er­gy. Even more strangely, the material's atomic structure begins to take on a regressive, 'fractal' like structure in this state. It looks the same on any scale. This is where the really weird stuff becomes apparent. While examining this state and 'tuning' the system, it was noted by both the Oxford and Berlin teams that the atomic string formation of cobalt niobate connected in such a way as it resonated a certain pitch. A note even. In an interview with the journal 'Science', the Oxford team lead researcher, Radu Coldea, noted:

“For these in­ter­ac­tions we found a series, or scale of res­o­nant notes. The first two notes show a per­fect rela­t­ion­ship with each other. The “pitch” of these notes, or their fre­quen­cies of vibra­t­ion, are in a ra­tio of about 1.618, the gold­en ra­tio fa­mous from art and ar­chi­tec­ture,”

Surely, the technological implications of this could be profound.
If properly understood we may be able to one day utilize this effect in some sort of nanotool or medicine...and no doubt weapons, too.
But there is something even more profound about this strange observation of matter; this discovery of " of res­o­nant notes".Something enigmatic and surreal.

We must consider: Is it sheer, outrageously improbable and strange coincidence to find an ancient ratio for art, architecture, and deign within a musical scale hidden inside a spinning atom wide nano magnet undergoing a 'phase transition' into a newly discovered 'Quantum Critical' state?
I know materialists will say 'YES' and give their cure all response ('shit happens'), but what about those of us who seek meaning and patterns in what they see?
I think it safe to assume that old William of Okham would agree with me that there is something far more interesting than coincidence at work here and would reserve his razor, at least in this case, for his tonsure.
And if it is NOT sheer coincidence and the ratio and scale are functional.....


  1. Fascinating stuff!

    I have an inkling that we are just scratching the surface of mother Nature's mysteries.

  2. 100% Pépé,
    Very interesting when we probe deep enough into physics, biology, and other related fields we see the numbers and concepts our ancestors felt most important.
    These 'signatures', as I like to call them, are fascinating to me. Their significance? A wonderful mystery for REAL science to probe.
    I look forward to much more mysterious stuff like this in my lifetime, and maybe when I am done (this life) I will actually KNOW what I am looking at? LOL
    My heartfelt thanks for your continued interest in my much neglected blog posts, Pépé.
    I hope to get 'back up to speed' this month, and I also hope to keep the interest of sharp minds like yours.
    Again, thanks to my ONLY follower :P


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