Back to work

02/02/2014

ResearchBlogging.org

I would like to have a lot more time to write on my blog. Indeed, time is something I have no often and also the connection is not so good as I would like in the places I spend most of it. So, I take this moment to give an update of what I have seen around in these days.

LHC has found no evidence of dark matter so far (see here). Dark matter appears even more difficult to see and theory is not able to help the search. This is also one of our major venues to go beyond the Standard Model. On the other side, ASACUSA experiment at CERN produced the first beam of antihydpogen atoms (see here, this article is free to read). We expect no relevant news about the very nature of Higgs until, on 2015, LHC will restart. It must be said that the data collected so far are saying to us that this particle is behaving very nearly as that postulated by Weinberg on 1967.

In these days there has been some fuss about the realization in laboratory of a Dirac magnetic monopole (see here).  Notwithstanding this is a really beautiful experiment, nobody has seen a magnetic monopole so far. It is a simulation performed with another physical system: A BEC. This is a successful technology that will permit us an even better understanding of physical systems that are difficult to observe. Studies are ongoing to realize a simulation of  Hawking radiation in such a system.  Even if this is the state of affairs, I have read in social networks and in the news that a magnetic monopole was seen in laboratory. Of course, this is not true.

The question of black holes is always at the top of the list of the main problems in physics. Mostly when a master of physics comes out with a new point of view. So, a lot of  fuss arose from this article in Nature involving a new idea from Stephen Hawking that the author published in a paper on arxiv (see here). Beyond the resounding title, Hawking is just proposing a way to avoid the concept of firewalls that was at the center of a hot debate in the last months. Again we recognize that a journalist is not making a good job but is generating a lot of noise around and noise can hide a signal very well.

Finally, we hope in a better year in science communication. The start was somewhat disappointing.

Kuroda N, Ulmer S, Murtagh DJ, Van Gorp S, Nagata Y, Diermaier M, Federmann S, Leali M, Malbrunot C, Mascagna V, Massiczek O, Michishio K, Mizutani T, Mohri A, Nagahama H, Ohtsuka M, Radics B, Sakurai S, Sauerzopf C, Suzuki K, Tajima M, Torii HA, Venturelli L, Wu Nschek B, Zmeskal J, Zurlo N, Higaki H, Kanai Y, Lodi Rizzini E, Nagashima Y, Matsuda Y, Widmann E, & Yamazaki Y (2014). A source of antihydrogen for in-flight hyperfine spectroscopy. Nature communications, 5 PMID: 24448273

M. W. Ray,, E. Ruokokoski,, S. Kandel,, M. Möttönen,, & D. S. Hall (2014). Observation of Dirac monopoles in a synthetic magnetic field Nature, 505, 657-660 DOI: 10.1038/nature12954

Zeeya Merali (2014). Stephen Hawking: ‘There are no black holes’ Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature.2014.14583

S. W. Hawking (2014). Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes arXiv arXiv: 1401.5761v1


Intrinsic decoherence is a scientific truth

01/10/2009

I would like to talk nicely of an initiative that helped me to find out that my view of decoherence, intrinsic decoherence, is indeed a scientific truth. Periodically, the Journal Club of Condensed Matter Physics presents an interesting selection of published papers in the area of condensed state of matter. This on-line journal was formerly started at Bell Labs and, due to its significant editorial members, contains a selection of very interesting works. This month, the first listed paper is a striking one, appeared in Physical Review Letters. It is an experimental paper and this means that the effect was indeed observed and measured. You can find this paper here but a subscription is needed to read it in full.

Let me summarize what I am claiming about this matter (see also here and here). A theorem due to Lieb and Simon says that, when the number of particles is taken to go to infinity for a quantum system with Coulomb interactions then Thomas-Fermi model is recovered. Thomas-Fermi model is a semiclassical model and so, a quantum system loses coherence and starts to behave classically. Please, note that this is a mathematical theorem. On the same ground, a beautiful theorem due to Hartmann, Mahler and Hess (see here)  shows that the decay is Gaussian when the same limit of particles going to infinity is taken. Both theorems, taken together, give a definite scenario of what happens, intrinsically, to quantum coherence of an isolated system. Can this be seen experimentally?

As I have already said, more than ten years ago, Horacio Pastawski and his group (check two papers by him here) proved, with NMR experiments, the very existence of this effect. They met a lot of difficulties to get their paper published. It was not and you can find it here. This group produces  a lot of very good physics and also this was fine as testified by a successive confirmation due to Dieter Suter and Hans Georg Krojanski appeared in Physical Review Letters. So far, it appeared as some pieces of a big jigsaw were around and nobody noticed them to make each other fit. Rather, researchers tried, in a way or another, to insert them in known matters. But this is completely new physics!

On August 8th of the last year, a paper on Physical Review Letters appeared that confirmed all this. This paper is the one I cited at the start of this post and is due to A. P. D. Love,  D. N. Krizhanovskii,  D. M. Whittaker,  R. Bouchekioua,  D. Sanvitto,  S. Al Rizeiqi,  R. Bradley,  M. S. Skolnick,  P. R. Eastham,  R. André, and Le Si Dang. I cite all of them because they did a great job and must be named. The physics relies on the behavior of polaritons. These are quasi-particles appearing in a Bose-Einstein condensate and, being bosons themselves, they condensate too. But observing such a condensate and to understand its decay it is not an easy task. Rather, this makes for an experimentalist a true challenge. Authors above accomplished this task and proved that number fluctuations are involved in the process, the decay is Gaussian and, all in all, the effect is purely intrinsic. The true signature of this effect is the dependence of the Gaussian decay on the number of particles and this is clearly seen by these authors.

All of this shows clearly that two effects are at work in producing the world we observe: an intrinsic effect that appears for a large number of interacting particles and a decay of quantum coherence produced by the interaction with the environment. For the particular case of cosmological perturbations, it is the intrinsic mechanism that induces a classical behavior (see here for an alternative view).


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