Quantum superposition taken to the limit, to a country size scale.
The turmoil social and political recent life in Catalonia, Spain, is leading to a superposition of Independent-Republic/Part-of-a-Monarchy state.
Spain is divided into 17 regions with their own local governments. Catalonia is one of those region, with particular historical characteristics. During the last 5 years there has been a growing feeling towards the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Spain is currently a monarchy.
1) Stage 1 of the Experiment: The Referendum. On October 1st was the first attempt in this unprecedented quantum experiment. On one side, the Catalan president summoned the catalans (citizens of Catalonia) to a referendum to determine if they wanted or not Catalonia to be an independent Republic. On the other side, Spanish president claimed that it was not going to be a referendum, or at least a binding one.
This is the way they were creating the quantum superposition of Referendum/non-referendum. And they really succeeded in having the citizens and the media confused on whether a referendum took place or not. Of course, there were lots of observers, which some claimed that the wave-function had collapsed into a yes and some into a no referendum. Experimental results were not robust enough, but there was no room for a second run of the experiment, at least from an independent research team.
2) Stage 2 of the Experiment: The Declaration of Independence. On October 10th, in agreement with the Catalan interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, the Catalan president summoned the Catalan House of Representatives. He was going to declare the independence. Did he do it? Well, he did and he did not, in the purest Schrödinger style. But high resolution measurements of his declaration could see that there had been a flow in his which path experiment. He had declared the independence but cancelled right after 6 seconds.
3) Stage 3 of the Experiment: Protocol 155. After one week of disagreement with the experimental results, and not knowing the uncertainty of the measurements, the Spanish president demanded the Catalan one the raw data and the analyzed data. Catalan experimentalists published a quick letter (fast editing) which was not clear enough (reviewers fault?). This made the Spanish part of the research team to perform a different measurement. They decided to apply technique 155 from the constitutional protocol. This would dissolve the government of Catalonia, giving a clear result of the superposition experiment.
4) Stage 4 of the Experiment: Call for Elections. After one week of fighting with the numbers and many-worlds interpretations of quantum mechanics, the Catalan president went one step forward and announced that he would make a call for elections. Then he didn't, trying to create a new superposition state to see if the experiment can still be saved.
5) Stage 5 of the Experiment: New Declaration of Independence. The last measurement did not create the desired superposition, so he has now announced a new declaration of independence, just to make it coincide with the Spanish application of the 155 protocol to the experiment.
Will they finally attain the Quantum Superposition of States, having a Republic and a Monarchy at the same time. Well, as far a nobody looks, that might work, but we will have to look and collapse the wave-function. We will have more information as the experiment is developed, which seems to be a long experiment.
It's Nobel prize announcement week. Today we just were announced the expected Physics one for the gravitational waves, but yesterday, the one on physiology was a well deserved one, also.
The Nobel prize in physiology was awarded for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. This circadian rhythms are internal clocks that all living creatures have and that control most of our internal mechanisms such as protein production, gene expression, ...
We are ruled by the 24 hours of the sun light, and we have evolved adapted to it. Even though our natural clock works for 25 hours, it seems to be more robust than the 24 hors one, due to interactions with many other circadian clocks. Our body has many different internal clocks that make it work properly. They are all interconnected, so some of them depend on others.
Also, because we are being in interaction with other animals, plants, and their clocks, ours have been adapted to the whole system.
Understanding these circadian rhythms is tantamount for many reasons. On the one hand, it can help us understand interactions in the complex nature of ecology, but also in social networks. We can see which phenomena (which clocks) are the most relevant ones in interactions to know and forecast the effects of one of the clocks weaken, for example. But on the other hand, it can improve how we administrate medicines to sick people, in order for it to synchronize with the suitable clock to make it reach its destiny in the most efficient manner.
It was expected, is was a loud secret, but it is well deserved prize.
The detection and verification of the Gravitational Waves predicted by Einstein in 2016 has been awarded with the Physics Nobel prize 2017.
Science might look less exciting in real life than in movies, as there everything is so fast, so stressful, that it seems that you only need seconds to revolutionize life.
But that is far from truth. I remember studying General Relativity in my last year in college. It was one of the courses that I most enjoyed, time dilation, gravitational pull that distorts space and time, black holes, cosmology. Gravitational waves, GW, was one chapter that I did not expect, I though that was going to be a rough mathematical one with minor implications. But it wasn't. It was surprising to imagine that we could see beyond light by using GW. Indeed, in the final project that I had to do in that course I was asked to figure out a way to detect them. I related that to the solid state course that I was taking at the same time. But I was off by several orders of magnitude.
At that time the LIGO project was a baby just newborn.
The discovery of GW is not just one more of hundreds of demonstrations that Einstein's General Relativity works (I'd say rules), but it is the opening of new eyes to the Universe.
I was socked when the first announcement of their detection on Earth, I was waiting for the LISA project. The LIGO experiment, that triangulates with three detectors now (two in the U.S. and one in Italy) is able to see were the light can't reach. It is able to study phenomena that can't otherwise be studied.
It is the opening of a new astronomy, and I am proud and happy that Carleton College has contributed to that achievement.
Next Monday October 16th LIGO will make a new announcement, probably detection of neutron star merger? We better stay tuned.
Here and here you can find the last of the publications of the LIGO team on September 2017.
The recent solar activity can give us the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in latitudes more to the south than usual.
Last Wednesday, September 6th, the Sun had two big flares ejecting a lot of material through space. The dynamics of the interior of the Sun is not yet fully understood. We know that the activity increases and decreases in periods of 11 years. We are now leaving a minimum of activity. Last week we could see a couple of big spots on the surface of the Sun, indicating activity. The spots that the Sun present are regions of lower temperature (~4000K versus ~6000K). They are due to the flux of material in the inside of the Sun due to the interaction of intense magnetic fields and important gradients of temperature. The core of the Sun is at about 10 million degrees while the surface is at about 6000 degrees.
This week two big flares have been ejected from the Sun. This flares are energetic particles that the Sun emits, basically protons and electrons, that travel at high speeds and can reach the Earth in about two days. This gives us some small time to forecast its effects on our atmosphere.
When these energetic particles reach the Earth they interact with the molecules of the atmosphere, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon. This interaction ends up emitting light of different color (reddish and greenish), depending on the molecule they interact with.
Physicist, working in quantum optics and nonlinear dynamics in optical systems. Loves to communicate science.