Prepare Yourself: Quantum Internet is Coming

There have been significant advances in what scientists are calling ‘quantum internet’.  This new form of internet would be entirely secure and ‘unhackable’.

Science alert claims, “quantum Internet would store data in individual particles of light – known as photons – rather than beams of light, which are currently used to transmit information across our existing fibre optic networks. While information carried in classical light can be intercepted and read, photons can’t be measured without being destroyed – so any kind of hacking would be impossible”

There have been many struggles in recent years to find a way to beam ‘quantum light’, or beams of single protons.  But now, A Stanford University team seems to be having some success in that regard.

By using a nanoscale laser and a gallium arsenide chip, the team is able to produce quantum light (below, blue) and allow classical light (pink) to pass through.

Despite all the troubles, we’re almost there.  Lead researcher Jelena Vuckovic says “the problem is that the quantum light is much weaker than the rest of the light coming from such a modified laser – it is difficult to pick up… so we created a better way to filter out the unwanted light, allowing us to read the quantum signal much better.”

The team is now working on a prototype that would serve as the foundation of quantum internet.  So get ready, this could change everything you know about the internet.

Brand new state of matter in an unexoected material.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Back in April, the physics world freaked out when scientists confirmed that they’d made the first direct observation of a brand-new state of matter – known as quantum spin liquid – for the first time.

But now a team of physicists has just announced that they’ve observed quantum spin liquid state again… and this time in a material where it should be impossible.

The discovery could change our understanding of how to make quantum computing work.

“We have proved empirically that interesting quantum states like spin liquids can also occur in considerably more complex crystals with different constellations of magnetic interactions,” said lead researcher Christian Balz, from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB) in Germany.

“This could be important for the advancement of quantum computers in the future because spin liquids are one of the possible building blocks for carrying the smallest unit of quantum information, known as a qubit,” added one of the senior researchers Bella Lake.

 Let’s back up a second, because all this isn’t as confusing as it sounds.

Spin in the quantum world doesn’t actually mean an electron is physically spinning. It refers to a type of intrinsic angular momentum that simply describes how an electron is behaving. In quantum computing we often simplify this by saying the spin state is down, up, or in superposition (both at the same time).

Quantum spin liquid is a state of matter that, very simply, occurs when the spin of electrons continue to fluctuate in a fluid manner even at very low temperatures, when they should be frozen in place.

It’s like atoms inside regular materials. When they’re in a fluid state, they’re moving freely. But when temperatures drop, they’ll freeze in place in a solid arrangement. That should happen with spin orientation in magnetic materials, but in quantum spin liquid state, it doesn’t.

Even though it was predicted in 1973, the new state of matter was only observed for the first time this year, in a two-dimensional, graphene-like material.

That discovery made a lot of sense, because the material fit our understanding of how spin liquid state arises.

Basically, the criteria is that a material has to have has anti-ferromagnetic – or antiparallel – interactions, which, as the name suggests, is the opposite to ferromagnetic interactions in materials such as iron and nickel.

It means that if one electron has a ‘down’ spin, the one next to it has to have an ‘up’ spin, and so on.

Anti-ferromagnetic materials on their own don’t necessarily enter quantum spin liquid state, unless they also happen to have a triangular atomic arrangement, which makes this alignment impossible.

So, just imagine three atoms at the corner of a triangle – they’re never all going to be in parallel alignments because as soon as one changes to match the one to its right, the one on its left will have to change, and so on and so on. They’ll keep flipping their alignment even at absolute zero temperature – hence, quantum spin liquid state.

But the new research suggests that our criteria isn’t quite right, because the German team were able to observe the new state of matter occurring in a material that doesn’t fit that profile.

The material in question is a monocrystal of calcium chromium oxide (Ca10Cr7O28).

Calcium-chromium oxide is made up of what are known as Kagomé lattices – named after the pattern of triangles and hexagons woven in Japanese baskets.

Basically that means the material has a complex mix of anti-ferromagnetic interactions, but also much stronger ferromagnetic interactions, which, according to conventional understanding, should prevent quantum spin liquid behaviour.

But through a range of scattering and spectrometry experiments in Germany, France, England, Switzerland, and the US, the team was able to show that this wasn’t the case – quantum spin liquid state was happening even at temperatures as low as 20 millikelvin (around –273 degrees Celsius).

So what’s going on here? Fortunately, the team has already come up with a hypothesis to explain why this material could behave like a quantum spin liquid without breaking our conventional understanding of the state of matter.

Using numerical simulations, they’ve shown that competition is the key to the strange behaviour – different magnetic interactions in the materials are competing with each other, and keeping the spins flip-flopping around.

You can see that happening in the illustration below, which shows the competing interactions on each atom (the grey and black balls). The green and red sticks represent ferromagnetic interactions, while the blue sticks represent anti-ferromagnetic interactions, which are forcing the spins to keep changing.


“The work expands our understanding of magnetic materials, and also shows us that there are potentially far more candidates for spin liquids than expected,”said Lake.

The research has been published in Nature Physics, and now needs to be verified by other teams before we say for sure that quantum spin liquid state can exist in these new types of materials.

But it’s a pretty exciting study that hugely widens the potential pool of materials that we could use in future to build quantum computers. We can’t wait to find out more.

Can Men And Women Really Be Friends Without Sexual Attraction?

It’s an age-old debate: Can men and women truly, really, honestly just be friends?

 Some people are categorical about it: No. There will always be ambiguity.

Others — usually those with lots of friends from the opposite sex — insist that platonic friendships between straight men and women can exist.

Here is the thing: Studies have shown differences in the way both genders perceive and experience opposite-sex friendships. If you’re a dude, you’re more likely to think that your female friend might be attracted to you when she is not. Women, on the other hand, tend to assume their lack of attraction towards their male friend is mutual — hence the existence of the dreaded friend zone concept.

An anonymous AskMen reader voiced her concerns about the potential one-sidedness of male and female friendships on guyQ, AskMen’s Q&A platform.

Can men and women truly be just friends?

Without intentions of sex or anything else friends normally wouldn’t have?

I truly don’t believe this and this is why I don’t see why my boyfriend has to have female friends. Guys usually only befriend women they are attracted to. I feel like this is how they became friends in the first place. Attraction is what brought the two together.

I also feel like guys turn to their “friends” to fill the void after a break up.

This woman lived 24 years without knowing she was missing her entire cerebellum.

Back in 2014, doctors in China were shocked when they discovered that a 24-year-old woman was living without her cerebellum, a vital section of the brain that holds up to 50 percent of a person’s total neurons.

Even crazier, the woman – who remains unnamed – had no idea of her condition and had been living out a pretty normal, full life, proving just how little we know about the brain and how it can adapt to cope with what should be a debilitating condition.

The woman’s story started in 2014, when her mother brought her into a Chinese hospital in Shandong Province because she was complaining of nausea and dizziness. Since these are not uncommon issues, doctors proceeded as normal, conducting a CAT scan to see if there was anything abnormal.


To their shock and awe, they found that the woman had a giant gap where her cerebellum should be. In fact, the cerebellum – the part of the brain that controls balance, voluntary movement, and the ability to learn motor skills and some speech – accounts for roughly 10 percent of a person’s total brain mass.

 According to a report by Helen Thomson from New Scientist, the woman’s mother said she had no idea that her daughter suffered from what should be a fatal condition, saying that she had problems walking until age 7 and didn’t speak intelligibly until age 6. Other than that, she lived a normal life.

“She is married with a daughter, and her pregnancy and delivery were described as uneventful. Her parents had no history of neurological disorders,” the doctors – led by Feng Yu from Chinese PLA General Hospital – wrote in a case study of the woman.

“Her four sisters and one brother are described as neurologically normal. According to her mother, she was 4-years-old before she could stand unassisted, and did not begin to walk unassisted until the age of 7, with a persistently unsteady gait. She never ran or jumped. Her speech was not intelligible until 6 years of age and she did not enter school,” they continued.

Researchers call this shocking condition ‘complete primary cerebellar agenesis’, and it’s so rare that – as Chris Weller puts it for Medical Daily – the number of cases can be counted on two hands, with the majority of cases leading to death or permanent brain damage.

“Most individuals with complete primary cerebellar agenesis are infants or children with severe mental impairment, epilepsy, hydrocephaly, and other gross lesions of the CNS,” the doctors explained.

“In even more rare instances, adults have been discovered with apparent complete primary cerebellar agenesis, but detailed neurological descriptions of these findings in a living adult are lacking. Complete primary cerebellar agenesis diagnosis usually occurs by autopsy.”

For this woman, though, she had somehow managed to keep on living with only minor ailments, such as an unsteady walk and bit of slurred speech.

The doctors say this is likely because whatever caused her cerebellum to disappear happened early in life, allowing her brain to adapt to the condition.

Basically, this means that other parts of the brain took over for the missing cerebellum, filling the void left by its absence with fluid.

In a similar situation, a man was found in 2007 who was living a normal, functional life, despite missing 90 percent of his brain – challenging our entire understanding of consciousness.

Hopefully the insights gained by doctors in cases such as these will help us further understand how the brain can adapt and handle conditions that should be fatal.

First Ever Human Trial Finds Magic Mushrooms Beat Severe Depression.

Get ready world, “magic” mushrooms, which contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, may soon become the standard go-to for reversing what the World Health Organization says is the number one cause of disability on the planet: depression.

A brand new first of its kind study published in The Lancet reports that psilocybin mushrooms were able to lift the severe depression of all twelve human volunteer participants, even though they had been struggling with the disease for an average of over seventeen years and despite that fact that none of the subjects had found relief with multiple rounds of standard anti-depressant medication.

“This is the first time that psilocybin has been investigated as a potential treatment for major depression,” says lead study author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris of the Imperial College London, where the study took place. “Treatment-resistant depression is common, disabling and extremely difficult to treat. New treatments are urgently needed, and our study shows that psilocybin is a promising area of future research.”

Via: The Lancet

Via: The Lancet

What is most remarkable about the study is that the depression symptoms lifted considerably following just a single treatment dose of psilocybin for every participant in the study, and for a majority of them the antidepressant effects of the mushrooms were still in effect three months after the dosing.

Amazingly, five of the original twelve severely depressed patients were in complete remission from depression three months after the study took place, even though they were following no other treatment plan.

“Previous animal and human brain imaging studies have suggested that psilocybin may have effects similar to other antidepressant treatments,” says Professor David Nutt, who co-authored the study. “Psilocybin targets the serotonin receptors in the brain, just as most antidepressants do, but it has a very different chemical structure to currently available antidepressants and acts faster than traditional antidepressants.”

Depression is usually treated with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which not only have a long list of negative side effects associated with them, including dizziness, insomnia, headaches, and even lower birth weights in infants, but need to be taken on a daily basis as well.

Psilocybin mushrooms, on the other hand, are entirely natural and do not need to be taken every day in order for one to experience their profound anti-depressive properties. They can be consumed when needed, and their benefit can last for weeks, months, or even years after each session.

“The key observation that might eventually justify the use of a drug like psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression is demonstration of sustained benefit in patients who previously have experienced years of symptoms despite conventional treatments, which makes longer-term outcomes particularly important,” says Professor Philip Cowen, a clinical scientist at the University of Oxford, in a linked comment on the study.

The truth is that a fast-acting and completely natural single dose anti-depressant that actually has higher remission rates than any other current treatment available could totally revolutionize the way depression is currently handled in mainstream medicine. Mother Nature has proven herself superior to chemical cocktails once again.

The only thing standing in the way is the law of course, as psilocybin mushrooms are still classified under Schedule I, despite this study, other similar findings, and their long history of medicinal and sacred use in indigenous cultures.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Libya Under Gaddafi

What do you think of when you hear the name Colonel Gaddafi? Tyrant? Dictator? Terrorist? Well, a national citizen of Libya may disagree but we want you to decide.

Ruling the country for for 41 years until his demise in October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi did some truly amazing things for his country and repeatedly tried to unite and empower the whole of Africa. So despite what you’ve heard on the radio, seen in the media or on the TV Gaddafi did some powerful things that were not very reminiscent of a vicious dictator. Here are ten things Gaddafi did for Libya that you may not know about…


1. In Libya a home is considered a natural human right.

In Gaddafi’s green book it states: ” The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others”. Gaddafi’s Green Book is the formal leader’s political philosophy, it was first published in 1975 and was intended reading for all Libyans even being included in the national curriculum.


2. Education and medical treatment were all free.

Under Gaddafi’s reign Libya could boast one of the best healthcare services in the Arab and African world. Also if a Libyan citizen could not access the desired educational course or correct medical treatment in Libya they were funded to go abroad.

3. Gaddafi carried out the worlds largest irrigation project.

The largest irrigation system in the world also known as the great man-made river was designed to make water readily available to all Libyan’s across the entire country. It was funded by the Gaddafi government and it said that Gaddafi himself called it ”the eighth wonder of the world”.



4. It was free to start a farming business.

If any Libyan wanted to start a farm they were given a house, farm land and live stock and seeds all free of charge.

5. A bursary was given to mothers with newborn babies.

When a Libyan woman gave birth she was given 5000 (US dollars) for herself and the child.

6. Electricity was free.

Electricity was free in Libya meaning absolutely no electric bills!

7.  Cheap petrol

During Gaddafi’s reign the price of petrol in Libya was as low as 0.14 (US dollars) per litre.


8. Gaddafi raised the level of education.

Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. He bought that figure up to 87% under his rule with 25% earning university degrees.

9. Libya had It’s own state bank.

Libya was the only country in the world to have a bank owned by the state meaning they were able to give loans to citizens at zero percent interest by law and they had no external debt.


10. The gold dinar

Before the fall of Tripoli and his untimely demise Gaddafi was trying to introduce a single African currency made of gold. Following in the foot steps of the late great pioneer Marcus Garvey who first coined the term ”United States of Africa”. Gaddafi wanted to introduce and only trade in the African gold Dinar  – a move which would have thrown the world economy into chaos.

The Dinar was widely opposed by the ‘elite’ of today’s society and who could blame them. African nations would have finally had the power to bring itself out of debt and poverty and only trade in this precious commodity. They would have been able to finally say ‘no’ to external exploitation and charge whatever they felt suitable for precious resources. It has been said that the gold Dinar was the real reason for the NATO led rebellion, in a bid to oust the outspoken leader.

So, was Muammar Gaddafi a Terrorist?

Few can answer this question fairly, but if anyone can, it’s a Libyan citizen who has lived under his reign? Whatever the case, it seems rather apparent that he did some positive things for his country despite the infamous notoriety surrounding his name. And that’s something you should try to remember when judging in future.

Brush your teeth in the dark to help sleep, says Oxford University neuroscientist.

Bright bathroom lights can stimulate the body and prevent sleep, claims Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University.

A woman brushes her teeth

The secret of a good night’s sleep could be as simple as brushing your teeth in the dark, an Oxford Neuroscientist has claimed.

Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience, claims that the bright fluorescent light of bathrooms wakes the body up just when it should be switching off.

He believes that simply brushing teeth in the a dark room could allow sleep to take hold more quickly.

“We live in these dimly-lit caves, both at home and in our offices, which are far less bright than natural light, even on a cloudy day”
Prof Russell Forster, Oxford University

“Often people will turn their lights down at night which helps to get the body ready for sleep, but then they will go and brush their teeth and turn their bathroom light on.

“That is very disrupting. I often think someone should invent a bathroom mirror light which has a different setting for night-time.”

Sleep is vitally important for clearing toxins, repairing tissues and replacing energy and restoring metabolic pathways. Lack of sleep is known to reduce cognition and creativity as well as suppressing the immune system and raising the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer and mental illness.

But Prof Foster said that people often struggle to regulate natural sleep patterns in the winter because they spend so much time in ‘dimly-lit caves’ which confuse the body about the time of day.

Humans, like all other animals, have evolved over millions of years to respond to light levels with genes switching on and off depending on the time of day.

But the invention of the lightbulb has meant that bright light is available 24 hours a day which can confuse the body’s natural rhythm and cause genes to switch at the wrong time.

woman sleeping

Sleep is important for clearing out toxins  

A recent study by US scientists found that sitting too far from a window at work can knock 46 minutes off a normal night’s sleep. A sunny day is equivalent to about 10,000 lux of light. However indoor office lighting typically provides only about 300 to 500 lux.

“We have this master clock ticking on the brain and each individual cells have their own little clock, so it’s rather like the conductor of an orchestra producing a signal which the rest of the body takes a cue from. There is a beautiful symphony of rhythms.

“But we live in these dimly-lit caves, both at home and in our offices, which are far less bright than natural light, even on a cloudy day. So it is so important to get outside, particularly in the morning to reset the body clock.

“Societal attitudes are very different to how we viewed sleep in the pre-industrial era. Thomas Edison commercialised the light bulb which allowed us to invade the night and sleep was the first victim.

“Edison’s attitudes have framed how we view sleep, which he said was a criminal waste of time and a heritage from our cave days. But it is hugely important

“It may be why Margaret Thatcher’s decision making was erratic in later years. She boasted of only needing four hours of sleep a night but I don’t think anyone can get by on four hours sleep a night without a detrimental impact.”

Russell Foster

Professor Russell Foster

Also speaking at the Royal Society event Jonathan Coe, the House of Sleep author, said that he thought that sleep deprivation was not helpful for creativity.

All these moments when your half awake, half asleep. I often think that is going to be a creative time, but when I look at what I’ve actually come up with I usually reject it,” he said.

“The ideas that come to you in those moments are not always as good as you think they are.”

Jonathan Coe, author of Expo 58

Author Jonathan Coe 

But Prof Foster said that dreaming was important to help the brain make new connections.

“During the day there is all this information is flowing in an you can’t adequately process that information so you park it,” he added.

“In sleep the options open out and it’s like lots of jigsaw pieces flying out. You might come up with a solution to something that has been bugging you.

“It can make you think differently about a subject. I does give you a distorted view of the world which can be helpful. I have woken up and thought, yes, I have a solution to that problem.”

Women without tonsils or appendix may be more fertile.

Have you had your tonsils or appendix removed? If you have and you’re a woman, you probably weren’t told that the surgery may have increased your chances of having a baby.

In fact, you may have been told the opposite.
But a new 15-year study found that women who had their tonsils or appendix removed when they were young are more likely to get pregnant — and to do so earlier in life.
The reasons behind the link are not fully understood.
Researchers at the University of Dundee examined the medical records of more than 530,000 women across the United Kingdom and found pregnancy rates to be higher among women who had had their tonsils or appendix removed. Pregnancies were even higher among people missing both.
Rates of pregnancy among women without an appendix or tonsils were 54% and 53%, respectively, and rates in women lacking both parts of their body were 59%. This was higher than pregnancies among the group representing the rest of the population, which was almost 44%.
The findings go against previous theories in medicine that these surgeries, particularly appendectomies, reduce chances of fertility due to scar tissue forming around a woman’s fallopian tubes, where her eggs travel.
“The study has challenged the myth that was previously accepted on the deleterious effects of appendectomies,” said Dr. Sami Shimi, a consultant surgeon and clinical lecturer in surgery at the University of Dundee who led the study. “Young women should not have any fear or anxiety about an appendectomy (or tonsillectomy) reducing their fertility.”
The current research follows a report in 2012 that linked appendectomies to higher rates of pregnancy. The new study backs this previous insight on a wider scale but added the extra association with tonsillectomies and people who have undergone both surgeries.

Biology or behavior?

It’s hoped the findings will reassure women who need these surgeries, but the researchers are now eager to understand why fertility was seen to increase.
“We now need to find the mechanism,” Shimi said. He believes there could be either a biological or behavioral reason behind it. “We’re not discounting either for now.”
The biological contender is the idea that inflammation within the body from a continually inflamed appendix, or tonsils, puts strain and burden on the body, weakening it and potentially reducing chances of conception.
Alternatively, Shimi suggests that increased promiscuity among some women, and therefore increased contact and intimacy — through kissing or sex — may directly increase chances of tonsillitis or else chances of abdominal infection. The latter would not cause appendicitis as such but could lead to more abdominal infections or pain, which is more likely to lead to hospital referrals and investigations in which an inflamed appendix may be spotted more readily.
Both options need further investigation.
“It’s a very interesting association they’ve shown here,” said Richard Anderson, professor of clinical reproductive science at the University of Edinburgh, who wasn’t involved in the new study. “The issue is that it’s purely an association.”
Anderson warns that people may believe that the two factors — the surgeries and fertility — are causally linked, but “there’s no evidence of that here.” He added that the real question now is whether women who undergo these surgeries are more fertile or whether they are more likely to get pregnant at a younger age.
“Tonsillectomies are rare these days,” he added. “It’s whether women who chose to have their tonsils removed (rather than ongoing rounds of antibiotics) are also choosing to fall pregnant more often.”
Both Anderson and Shimi agree that the findings should instead be used to reassure women who need the surgeries and that those wanting to improve their fertility should not request to have them.
“Young women should not seek appendectomies or tonsillectomies to increase their chances of pregnancy,” Shimi said. “But if they need one, the operation will not reduce their future chances of pregnancy.”

We just got even weirder results about the ‘alien megastructure’ star.

Something strange is definitely going on.

Last year, the world freaked out over the discovery of a star that was dimming and flickering so erratically, it couldn’t be explained by any known natural phenomenon – prompting one scientist to actually go there and suggest it could be evidence of some kind of alien megastructure.

Follow-up studies have revealed no signs of alien behaviour, but NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has just spent around 1,600 days observing the star, and things have gotten a lot weirder.

 “We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real,” one of the researchers, Ben Montet from Caltetch, told Maddie Stone over at Gizmodo. “We just weren’t able to.”

The results of these latest observations have just gone up on pre-print site arXiv, so other members of the astronomy community can do their best to poke holes in them – which means we can’t read too much into them for now.

But basically what Kepler saw was KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star, dimming at such an incredible rate that it can’t solely be explained by any of the leading hypotheses we had: comet swarms, or the effects of a warped star.

That doesn’t mean we have any more evidence for the alien megastructure hypothesis – the internet-backed idea that an advanced civilisation is building something giant, like a hypothetical Dyson sphere, around the star to harvest its energy.

But what it does suggest is that something’s going on around the star that we’ve never seen anywhere in the cosmos before – most likely a combination of strange phenomena.

The Kepler data in the latest study was analysed by two Caltech scientists to get an understanding of how the star changed in brightness over the more than four years the telescope was pointed in its direction.


What they saw was that, not only did the star’s light output occasionally dip by 20 percent – the weird behaviour scientists first spotted last year – but over the course of the observations, its entire stellar flux actually dimmed.

For the first 1,000 days Kepler was observing the star, that diminishing wasn’t too extreme – the star dropped in luminosity by about 0.34 percent per year.

But over the next 200 days, the star dimmed more than 2 percent before levelling off. In total, the star lost around 3 percent of its total luminosity during the four-year period.

The researchers analysed data on 193 nearby stars, and 355 stars that are similar to Tabby’s star, and couldn’t find anything else like it.

So what does that mean? Well, we still don’t really know.

The most likely answer is that there are a combination of factors involved, and we can’t rule out any of the existing hypotheses, such as the effects of a distorted star, a comet swarm, or the debris from an exploded planet.

But one of those on its own can’t explain what Kepler has seen.

“The new paper states, and I agree, that we don’t have any really good models for this sort of behaviour,” Jason Wright, the Penn State researcher who originally started the whole alien megastructure thing, told Gizmodo. “That’s exciting!”

This isn’t the first time that researchers have spotted Tabby’s star dimming strangely, either. A paper earlier this year showed that the star had unexplainably diminished by 19 percent over the past 100 years, but those results have since been widely discredited.

The new Kepler observations, on the other hand, suggest that the star is actually dimming twice as fast, but these results also need to be independently verified before we can take them too seriously.

The good news is that researchers are now gearing up to point the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network at Tabby’s star for a full year, with the hope of catching it in the act as it flickers – if that happens, other telescopes around the world can be directed at the star, to get an idea of what’s going on once and for all.

In the meantime, we would remind you that it’s very, very unlikely that this strange flickering star has anything to do with aliens (and is even more exciting if it doesn’t – because, hello new space phenomena!). But we know you’re not going to listen anyway, so go ahead and get the memes ready.

After all, it’s not every day you find a star system that continues to defy science.