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Mishap during experiment led quantum researchers to crack a 58-year-old puzzle (unsw.edu.au)
120 points by K0SM0S 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

The whole article is worth reading, but my favorite part is the fact that the "mishap" mentioned in the title was inadvertently overloading a magnetic antenna, causing it to break and by coincidence become an electric antenna.

This is pretty interesting, if it is truly tiny and simple enough to reproduce, what impact does it have on quantum computing devices? This example is designed for a single atom, so not applicable for multi-qbit computations, but it seems to break open the floodgates for new research into using electric fields to directly interact with quantum systems cheaply, which sounds potentially huge in my layman opinion.

Sounds quite foundational and may impact a lot of fields.

Archive link: https://web.archive.org/web/20200312192401/https://newsroom....

Nature link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2057-7

Pretty interesting stuff! Veritasium did a couple videos with this researcher 7 or so years ago:



Serendipity is a critical part of progress and discovery. A limited list of inventions that occurred due to serendipity:


I'm not even an amateur when it comes to this stuff, much less an expert. But superficially, to my non-expert ears, this sounds like it could be a Really Big Deal™. Can anyone more knowledgeable chime in?

This seems a pretty big deal to me. Secretly or not , we all wait for that big breakthrough that will revolutionize everything. Maybe this is part of the whole: The mythical Theory of Everything.

Could this help with building Spintronics?


Pretty big news, seems like an actual breakthrough with big implications.

That shirt... Is something.

Puzzle shmuzzle, what superpowers did they gain ?

More precise manipulation of atomic spin, potentially enabling less resource-intensive quantum computers (for the most boring application I can think of).

So, I'll finally get served a relevant ad?

Here's a layman article from the University of New South Wales, Australia: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/engineers-cra...


> “Performing magnetic resonance is like trying to move a particular ball on a billiard table by lifting and shaking the whole table,” he says. “We'll move the intended ball, but we'll also move all the others.

> “The breakthrough of electric resonance is like being handed an actual billiards stick to hit the ball exactly where you want it.”

This could allow much more compact MRI scanners, vast improvements in quantum computing, chemistry or mining, and of course to design fundamentally new science experiments.

> “This landmark result will open up a treasure trove of discoveries and applications,” says Professor Morello. “The system we created has enough complexity to study how the classical world we experience every day emerges from the quantum realm. Moreover, we can use its quantum complexity to build sensors of electromagnetic fields with vastly improved sensitivity. And all this, in a simple electronic device made in silicon, controlled with small voltages applied to a metal electrode.”

If you don't know about NER (Nuclear Electric Resonance), take comfort in knowing that Pr. Morello did not either. We're “rediscovering” this rather dead field. What a fantastic serendipitous discovery, isn't it?

Url changed to that from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2057-7. Thanks!

For something like this where so few readers can understand the specialist article, it's preferable to link to the best popular summary.

I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the guideline! — and proper title/link.

I wouldn't expect anything to happen for MRI scanners because they are putting the electric fields over tiny patches on a silicon chip. The whole point of the design is that the effect doesn't extend very far past the tiny area where it's meant to be.

But you can create electric fields over large areas if you wish to do so, and it's probably easier and cheaper than creating large magnetic fields. I suspect there are other downsides though.

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