Tag Archives: Mars

OU Researchers Create New Molecule

Scientists at the University of Oklahoma have created a new molecule that may lead the way to quantum computing. Dr. James Shaffer and his team created the molecule by manipulating the electron inside an atom causing it leave the atom, this caused another atom to reach out to it creating what’s called a Dipole Moment(Obviously, this is a way watered-down version of this process.)

The Dipole Moment created by the OU researchers is the largest on record.

Quantum computers are much faster than conventional computers and are based on a large Dipole Moment. Dr. Shaffer explains in this video how his breakthrough could help develop quantum computing and why that’s important.

Below is a news release from the University of Oklahoma that has some details.

OU Physicists First to Create New Molecule with Record-Setting Dipole Moment

Norman, Okla.—A proposed pathway to construct quantum computers may be the outcome of research by a University of Oklahoma physics team that has created a new molecule based on the interaction between a highly-excited type of atom known as a Rydberg atom and a ground-state atom.  A unique property of the molecule is the large permanent dipole moment, which reacts with an electric field much like a bar magnet reacts with a magnetic field.

“This is the largest electric dipole moment ever observed in a molecule,” says James Shaffer, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences.  Shaffer and his team want to produce enough of these molecules to carry out future experiments on dipole interactions.  Dipole interactions between particles may provide a pathway for constructing scalable quantum computers.

Donald Booth, the lead graduate student on this project, says the molecule is formed when an electron from the Rydberg atom grabs onto the ground-state atom. OU researchers excite the Rydberg atom using lasers in a cloud of ground-state atoms, so the Rydberg electron can collide with a ground-state atom and form the molecule.

A paper by OU physicist James Shaffer on this research has been published in Science magazine at news.sciencemag.org.

Evidence of an Ancient Lake on Mars

The Mars rover Curiosity continues to turn up amazing finds on the red planet. This time NASA says it’s found evidence of an ancient lake. How? They base that on the way the rock is laying. “The cross-bedding — evident as layers at angles to each other — reflects formation and passage of waves of sand, one on top of the other. These are known as ripples, or dunes,” wrote a NASA official.

Click the link and check out the fascinating images.

Two Years On Mars

It blows me a way every time I think about it. Man-made vehicles are on Mars right now!! That’s 128-million miles away.

The rover Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6th, 2012. Since then it’s explored sites called Yellowknife Bay, Mount Sharp, and the Zabriskie Plateau. It’s found evidence of an ancient lakebed that NASA says once held fresh water…a key ingredient for life.

The picture above is a selfie taken by Curiosity on top of a sandstone site called Windjana. Here’s more on that particular site and what the rover is doing.

I did a story  in 2012 on the rover and how a University of Tulsa professor is using the data collected by Curiosity to learn more about rocks here on Earth.

It’s incredible that Earthlings designed the rover and sent it millions of miles away to a barren planet. Science never ceases to amaze me.