The quantum realm is incredibly fascinating but can be difficult to visualize. Washington State University physicists share a few tangible insights.
Michael Forbes, associate professor of physics and spokesman for the WSU Quantum Initiative says quantum’s advantage over classical Newtonian physics comes down to the phenomena called entanglement and superposition.
“This is a weird thing in quantum mechanics,” he says. “You can have a pair of quantum particles that spin in such a way that one points up and the other points down. Entanglement is the idea that they always have to point in opposite directions—if you measure one to be up, you … » More …
With murmurs and pointing, the crowd watches as a face and then hands—holding a large object—appear in the twelfth-story window of WSU’s Webster Physical Sciences Building.
On the ground, Butch T. Cougar begins a countdown: five, four, three, two… At one, the hands release a 10-pound, half-frozen pumpkin that rockets to the courtyard, exploding in a confetti-bomb of cheers, screams, and a thousand gooey fragments.
Strains of Galileo Galileo from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” fill the plaza and down comes another pumpkin, then another and another. So begins that nerdy-fun Dad’s Weekend tradition—the Pumpkin Drop.
“Throwing out pumpkins is kind of a rush,” says … » More …
The Pumpkin Drop at WSU has been a tradition for Dad’s Weekend since 2004, as students in the Physics and Astronomy Club toss the pumpkins from the Pullman campus’s tallest building. Check out the tenth annual drop video below and read more about this tradition in the Fall 2018 issue.
Today’s baseball game, brought to you by Physics Unlimited, is a blockbuster contest between the famous Mathematical Physicists and Washington State University’s own Oblique Collisions.
As the Oblique Collisions take the field, Ernest Rutherford, the renowned English physicist, is first up for the Mathematical Physicists. Better known outside physics circles for his cricketing skills, Rutherford is quite the hitter, though usually of particles much smaller than baseballs.
Indeed, in describing the collision of an alpha particle—better known as the nucleus of a helium atom, two protons and two massive neutrons—with a gold atom, Rutherford had this to say: “It was as if you fired a … » More …
In the near future, your local hardware store could include a “green electronics” counter where friendly clerks unspool sheets of plastic film and print devices while you wait.
Need a few more solar panels? No problem.
How about a flexible LED lighting strip? This roll over here.
Computer? Loudspeaker? Or maybe transparent, energy-producing panels for your greenhouse? On sale today!
Though the scene is hypothetical, the emerging technology for organic, thin-film polymer plastics is up and running in laboratories around the world, including those of the Collins Research Group at Washington State University.
Led by assistant professor of physics Brian Collins, the enthusiastic … » More …
John Yeager wants to know what happens to materials all the way down to the nanoscale, even when they detonate. His curiosity led to three WSU materials science degrees, and a recent award.
Yeager ’06, ’08 MS, ’11 PhD, now works for the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s High Explosives Science and Technology group in New Mexico. He received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in January.
Established in 1996, the Presidential Early Career Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. Yeager is among … » More …
Crystals reflect the best of nature’s handiwork. With their atoms aligned in repeating 3D patterns, crystals can be as momentary as a snowflake or as common as the sodium chloride in table salt. They can sparkle on a finger, scatter rainbows across the room, or be grown on your kitchen table with a few ingredients from the hobby shop.
Some also possess unusual properties, such as quartz crystal’s ability to generate a tiny electrical current when pressure is applied. Known as the piezoelectric effect, this useful phenomenon helped inspire the rise of a global, multibillion dollar crystal growth industry.
Today, manmade crystals power an astonishing … » More …
Deep in the bowels of a large brick building on the WSU campus is a laboratory guarded by red flashing lights and warning signs. A tiny window in the door offers glimpses of stainless steel machinery while a low pulsating hum emanates through thick concrete walls.
Inside the W. M. Keck Antimatter Laboratory, a deuteron accelerator produces up to 120 billion positrons per second—about 10 trillion positrons per day, more than any other university or small laboratory in the nation.
Positrons are a type of antimatter. For every proton, neutron, or electron spinning within an atom there is a particle of opposite charge—its antiparticle. Positrons … » More …