Friday, 18 November 2011

Is the wavefunction physically real?

Fundamental physics is having a big week! This week Eugenie Reich at Nature reported on a paper that's sending shockwaves through the quantum physics world. Physicists including by Matthew Pusey at Imperial College London, are daring to imagine that the staple of quantum theory - the wavefunction - might be a little bit more real that physicists had previous believed.

As Reich outlines:
"At the heart of the weirdness for which the field of quantum mechanics is famous is the wavefunction, a powerful but mysterious entity that is used to determine the probabilities that quantum particles will have certain properties. [....] Whereas many physicists have generally interpreted the wavefunction as a statistical tool that reflects our ignorance of the particles being measured, [Pusey & co] argue that, instead, it is physically real."

“I don't like to sound hyperbolic, but I think the word 'seismic' is likely to apply to this paper,” says Antony Valentini, a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum foundations at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Source: &

Thursday, 10 November 2011

20Hz by Semiconductor

One of the works commissioned for the Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves exhibition in Barcelona was 20 Hz, an amazing new piece by Brighton-based artists and filmmakers, Semiconductor.

Semiconductor were commissioned to make a piece which showed us the relationship between radio waves and sound. The resulting work - 20 Hz - is an astonishing 5 minute video which uses data collected by the CARISMA radio array. CARISMA (Canadian Array for Realtime Investigations of Magnetic Activity) is is an array of magnetometers which study the Earth’s magnetosphere. 20 Hz is an interpretation of a magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The CARISMA data – captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz – is interpreted as audio, allowing us to hear the “tweets” and “rumbles” caused by the interaction of solar wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere. The visual element of the film is generated directly by the sound. Tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.

You can watch it at the artists’ website here.

Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves is a show that explores how our understanding of our world and our cosmos has been transformed by the study of radio waves. It is showing at Arts Santa Mònica in Barcelona, from 14 October 2011 - 4 March 2012.