Thursday 20 May 2010

Working in Ottawa today --Quantum Optics

Good morning folks,
I will be working today in Ottawa.
More fun than the dentist, but a pale comparison to being on a golf course.
And a special news item for propeller heads: Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have created a system based on a single atom that they’re calling a ”quantum optical transistor.” The transistor could someday serve as part of a quantum computer or as a node of a quantum data network.
Their process relies on a complex light manipulation technique called electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT). In EIT, one beam of light controls the properties of another, much as the gate voltage controls current through a regular transistor. The researchers demonstrated EIT through the mediation of a single atom, which is a first; previously the technique was applied to hundreds of thousands of atoms in a gas.
Normally, laser beams don’t interact with one another, but under certain conditions, you can force them to. The German researchers started by placing a rubidium atom in an optical cavity—two tiny mirrors spaced just half a millimeter apart. They aimed a laser into the cavity, tuning it so that the atom inside reflected it. They then fired a second laser of a different frequency, called the control laser, into the cavity at a right angle to the first. Tuning the second laser just so let them ”create the condition of transparency,” says Figueroa: The first laser’s light sailed right through. That gave the cavity system two states, transparent and opaque, analogous to the on-off states of a classical transistor.
Yes, very cool beans!
Have a good day, interact often.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless handheld -- Envoyé de mon sans fil portatif BlackBerry

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Working in Ottawa today --Suicidal Chicken

Good morning folks,
I will be working today in Ottawa along with several other management team members.
When I went to sleep last night it was with the plan of waking at 6 or so to leave my house at 7 for an 8 A.M. flight.
I woke at 10 minutes to 6 --not with an alarm clock but through a great sense of dedication and responsibility :) and it's funny how clear one's mind can operate in that brief moment as consciousness takes the reigns of your mind and body from slumber...
Holy crap! or some other suitable expletive emanated quite audibly from my lips --much to the confusion of my doggy Molly.  It was at this waking moment that I remembered that I was on the 7 A.M. flight.  
I'll spare you the details of extremely fast showering, shaving, teeth brushing and dressing and conclude with the information that yes, I made the flight on time.
So.. I really only have time to share a single joke with you.
Why did the chicken kill himself?
Answer is written backwards:
edis rehto eht ot teg oT
I am not sure how much of that joke will be lost in language or cultural translation, but if you didn't find it funny you may appreciate my pancake joke.
I'll be sure to tell it to you sometime, in the meanwhile, have a good day.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless handheld -- Envoyé de mon sans fil portatif BlackBerry

Working in Montréal today --Olfactory Musings

Ignore the first email, too itchy with my trigger finger.
Good morning folks,
A bit of a delay this A.M. as Air Canada's check-in system checked out for an hour or so.  The only annoying part was the P.A. announcement that routinely reminded us that because of a network issue and there was 'reduced' check-in capability.
By categorizing it as merely 'reduced' they created this anxious aire amongst the panicky public that they were standing in the slow moving line, and they may miss their flight if they didn't try the kiosk or their BlackBerry or look at the counters again.
Just once a company should come clean.  Something like, "folks, we're damn sorry but despite raid arrays, and redundant power supplies and error correcting ram, we think we have a bad ethernet cable somewhere and we can't find the keys to the IT closet.  Grab a coffee, relax and we'll get you going as soon as Jim's uncle gets here with a crowbar".
Would that be so hard?
Onto the main feature.  This is from the "I bet you hadn't ever thought about this" department.  
Most of you have thought about the distinct advantage having two eyes gives us in determining distance of viewed objects, seems to it is referred to as the parallax principal.   And no doubt a smaller yet still substantial number of you have also thought about the auditory tracking benefit of having two ears, although I can't recall the term for the principal, it is not dissimilar to the visual.
So what about smell --the advantage of having two olfactory organs?
I read this A.M. that a team of researchers at Rockefeller University genetically manipulated flies to express odorant receptors in one of the fly's olfactory organ or both.
The researchers have shown that the brains of Drosophila Melanogaster larvae not only make use of stereo cues to locate odors but also to navigate toward them --a behavior called chemotaxis.
Isn't science fun?
Have a good day and smell good :)
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless handheld -- Envoyé de mon sans fil portatif BlackBerry