Thursday, June 13, 2013

9.5 million litre toxic waste spill lays waste to Northern Alberta environment

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quantum Computing Closer as Scientists Store, Retrieve Data Inside Atom

BERKELEY, CA - Another step towards quantum computing – the Holy Grail of data processing and storage – was achieved when an international team of scientists that included researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) were able to successfully store and retrieve information using the nucleus of an atom.

In a paper entitled: “Solid-state quantum memory using the 31P nuclear spin,” published in the October 23 issue of the journal /Nature/, the team described an experiment in which exceptionally pure and isotopically controlled crystals of silicon were precisely doped with phosphorus atoms. Quantum information was processed in phosphorus electrons, transferred to phosphorus nuclei, then subsequently transferred back to the electrons. This is the first demonstration that a single atomic nucleus can serve as quantum computational memory.

John Morton of Oxford University was the lead author. Co-authoring the paper from Berkeley Lab were Thomas Schenkel, Eugene Haller and Joel Ager. Other co-authors were Richard Brown, Brendon Lovett and Arzhang Ardavan of Oxford University, and Alexei Tyryshkin, Shyam Shankar and Stephen Lyon, of Princeton, University.

The immediate lure of quantum computing is blinding speed: a quantum computer would be able to perform certain mathematical tasks, such as factoring, many billions of times faster than the most powerful supercomputers of today. Beyond that, quantum computing should make it possible to engage calculations that cannot be considered with current “classical” computing technology. The secret behind quantum computing is the weird, counterintuitive but demonstrably real properties of quantum mechanics.

In classical computing, information is processed and stored based on the charge of an electron, and represented in a binary digit or “bit.” Each bit carries a value of 0 (no charge) or 1 (charge). Quantum computing utilizes an intrinsic quantum property called “spin,” in which certain particles can act as if they were tiny bar magnets. Spin is assigned a directional state of either "up" or "down,” which can be used to encode data in 0s and 1s. However, unlike charge in classical computing, which is either present or not, spin can be up, down or both, thanks to a quantum effect called “superposition.”

Superpositioning exponentially expands the storage capabilities of a quantum data bit or “qubit.” Whereas a byte of classical data, made up of three bits, can represent only one of the eight possible combinations of 0s and 1s, a quantum equivalent (sometimes called a qubyte) can represent all eight combinations at once. Furthermore, thanks to another quantum property called “entanglement,” operations on all eight combinations can be performed simultaneously.

Of the many challenges facing quantum computing, one of the biggest has been finding a way to preserve the integrity of data while it is stored. Although the spin of electrons has proven well-suited for data processing, it is too fragile to be used as memory – the data quickly becomes corrupted by the influence of other electrons. To overcome this obstacle, the co-authors of this experiment turned to the more protected environs of the atomic nucleus.

“In this exciting collaboration with colleagues from Oxford and Princeton, we have reported on a very important demonstration of coherent information transfer between the electron spin (processing qubit) and the nuclear spin (memory qubit) of phosphorus atoms in isotopically enriched silicon crystals,” said co-author Schenkel, a physicist in Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator and Fusion Research Division, who has been a leader in the use of ion beams for the development of quantum computer test structures. (See A Toolkit for Quantum Computing.)

“The electron spin information was faithfully stored in the nuclear spin for nearly two seconds (thousands of times longer than ever reported for similar studies), then transferred back to the electron spin with about 90-percent fidelity,” Schenkel said.

In this study, the co-authors created a superposition state in electron spin and transferred it to nuclear spin using a combination of microwave and radio-frequency pulses, which they applied to phosphorus-31. This stable isotope of phosphorus is the ideal electron donor for silicon-28, the stable isotope of silicon that is the basis for today’s computer technology. Said lead author Morton in a statement, “The electron acts as a middle-man between the nucleus and the outside world. It gives us a way to have our cake and eat it - fast processing speeds from the electron, and long memory times from the nucleus.”

Crucial to the success of this study were the exceptionally pure silicon-28 crystals created by co-authors Haller and Ager. Haller is a world authority on crystal growth and purification and is credited with launching the modern era of isotopically enriched semiconductor research. Ager designed and built a one-of-its-kind reactor for creating isotopically enriched and chemically pure silicon, featuring a high conversion efficiency.

Said Haller, “Crystals of natural silicon contain 4.7-percent of the isotope silicon-29, in addition to silicon-28 and silicon-30. For this study we needed silicon crystals that were not only chemically pure, but isotopically pure as well because silicon-29 has a nuclear spin that would interfere with the readout of the electron and nuclear spins of the phosphorus.”

Since the silicon crystals to be doped would consist of billions of atoms, creating isotopically pure crystals of silicon-28 was a painstaking process. Once these exceptionally pure crystals were created, they then had to be doped with phosphorus-31 in specific areas of the crystal and to just the right amount – an undertaking that Ager compared to adding one extra person to Earth’s population at one particular address.

Now that it has been demonstrated that electron spin data can be stored and retrieved via nuclear spin, future steps will require improving spin control and readout mechanisms. Also, while the quantum memory time observed in this study is exceptionally long by previous standards, it should still be possible to significantly extend this time.

“The good news is that there are no know physical limits that would prevent quantum memory time in nuclear spin from being longer,” said Ager. “With even greater isotopic and chemical purity of our silicon crystals, we should be able to store data in the nucleus for an arbitrarily long period of time, maybe even in terms of years.”

The Berkeley Lab portion of this research was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, through the Materials Sciences and Engineering Division of its Basic Energy Sciences programs, and in part
by the National Security Agency.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy mational laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website at

Monday, September 22, 2008


For more information about NASA's aeronautics research, visit:
NASA Areonautics!

Click here for more information about NASA and agency programs.

Want more info. on the announcement and the process for submitting proposals? Click here!


WASHINGTON -- NASA and the United States Air Force are looking for university and industry partners as they work to advance hypersonic

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington and the
Air Force Research Laboratory's Office of Science Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, have released a broad agency announcement describing their intent to establish three national hypersonic science centers. Hypersonic speed is defined as Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, and faster.

NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program and the Air Force Office of Science Research plan to set aside as much as $30 million to fund the centers over five years. The maximum grant will be approximately $2 million a year. The jointly funded program will support university-level basic science or engineering research that provides improved understanding of hypersonic flight.

"We have identified three critical research areas: air-breathing propulsion, materials and structures, and boundary layer control," said James Pittman, principal investigator for NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program's Hypersonics Project at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "These three areas are the biggest hurdles to successful hypersonic flight and low-cost space access using an air-breathing engine."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

CONSUMER ALERT - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Consumer Advisory - Infant formula originating from China

September 12, 2008 -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada are advising consumers to avoid purchasing infant formula originating from China. While this product is not approved for sale in Canada, it is possible that it could have been illegally imported to Canada and may be for sale in some stores that carry ethnic foods.

The Canadian government has become aware that melamine, a toxic substance when consumed, has been detected in infant formula which may have been exported illegally from China. Several illnesses in infants in China, and at least one death, have been linked to the consumption of this product.

To date, no infant formulas contaminated with melamine have been found in Canada and, in fact, no formulas produced in China are approved for sale in Canada.

The CFIA is investigating this situation and is advising consumers to avoid these products if they are found on store shelves. If consumers do have this product, they should contact us at 1 800 442-2342.

The CFIA is implementing a border lookout on milk protein products and will test any suspect products found. In addition, CFIA inspectors will be checking retail establishments to determine if the formula is present in stores.

All infant formula sold in Canada must be approved by Health Canada. Infant formula manufacturers are required to submit detailed information for Health Canada’s review in order to ensure that infant formula sold in Canada is safe and nutritious.

Health Canada has contacted the four major manufacturers of infant formula sold in Canada: Abbott Nutritionals, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Nestlé Canada and PBM Nutritionals. All four have confirmed that they do not use any milk ingredients sourced from China.

Melamine is a chemical compound used in a number of commercial and industrial applications. Canada does not allow its use as a food ingredient. As a precautionary measure, the Agency is verifying that infant formula containing this product is not on Canadian store shelves.

No illnesses have been reported in Canada related to the consumption of this product.

For more information, please contact the CFIA at 1 800 442 2342 or visit our website at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Made-in-China Baby Formula Found to Contain Melamine

Travel in Asia? Have a baby? Remember the poisoned pet food scandal? Well, heads up!The US F.D.A. is alerting consumers that melamine has been found in made in China baby formula, say reports in USA Today. Chinese press reports say a huge recall is underway in China.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Berkeley Labs on LHC first beams & US contributions to the projecr

First Beam for Large Hadron Collider

Washington, D.C. – An international collaboration of scientists today sent the first beam of protons zooming at nearly the speed of light around the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) invested a total $531 million in the construction of the accelerator and its detectors, which scientists believe could help unlock extraordinary discoveries about the nature of the physical universe.

Celebrations across the U.S. and around the world mark the LHC’s first circulating beam, an occasion more than 15 years in the making. An estimated 10,000 people from 60 countries have helped design and build the accelerator and its massive particle detectors, including more than 1,700 scientists, engineers, students and technicians from 94 U.S. universities and laboratories supported by DOE’s Office of Science and NSF.

“As the largest and most powerful particle accelerator on Earth, the LHC represents a monumental technical achievement,” said U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach. “I congratulate the world's scientists and engineers who have made contributions to the construction of the accelerator for reaching this milestone. We now eagerly await the results that will emerge from operation of this extraordinary machine.”

The first circulating beam is a major accomplishment on the way to the ultimate goal: high-energy beams colliding in the centers of the LHC’s particle detectors. Beyond revealing a new world of unknown particles, the LHC experiments could explain why those particles exist and behave as they do. They could reveal the origins of mass, shed light on dark matter, uncover hidden symmetries of the universe and possibly find extra dimensions of space.

NSF has focused its support on funding university scientists who have contributed to the design and construction of the two largest detectors, CMS and ATLAS, and promoted the development of advanced computing innovations, essential to address the challenges posed by the enormity and richness of data to be accumulated. Continued support will enable scientists to optimize detector performance, successful data accumulation and sophisticated analysis, necessary for discovery.

“This national and international collaboration of unprecedented scope, and our investment in basic science, fundamental to the NSF mission, provide an exciting opportunity to solve some of the core mysteries of the universe,” said Arden L. Bement, Jr., director of the NSF. “With the operation of the LHC, anticipation of transformative scientific discoveries soars to new heights.”

DOE provided support for the design and construction of the ATLAS and CMS detectors through two DOE national laboratories—Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois. While the construction was managed through Fermilab and Brookhaven, scientists and engineers at universities and other DOE national laboratories—Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in California—played key roles in the design and construction and are finalizing preparations to collect and analyze the data at the energy frontier. In addition, DOE supported about 150 scientists, engineers and technicians from three DOE national laboratories—Brookhaven, Fermilab and Berkeley Lab—that built critical components for the LHC accelerator. They are joined by colleagues from DOE’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Texas A&M University in ongoing accelerator R&D.

“The LHC is a discovery machine,” said CERN Director General Robert Aymar, “its research programme has the potential to change our view of the Universe profoundly, continuing a tradition of human curiosity that’s as old as mankind itself.”

Large Hadron Collider Rap and other info

The LHC has been fired up without incident but the first collisions won't occur for about a month.


the LHC:

Why? check it: The LHC Rap :)

3 part series on the LHC experiments:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

NY Nuke Plant Sits Atop Potential Earhquake Zone

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, New York City is in greater danger of earthquake damage than was previously believed.

NASA points that, alarmingly, the Indian Point nuclear facility just north of the city, sits on top of the meeting of two prevously unknown but active fault zones, according to a study by Columbia University scientists.

"We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California," said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. "The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look." Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. "The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great," he said. "It could be like something out of a Greek myth."