Neutron-rich nucleus shapeshifts between a rugby ball and a discus

There are two coexisting, competing quantum shapes at low energy in 98Kr, never before seen for neutron-rich Kr isotopes, report scientists. The team also showed that these isotopes experience a gentle onset of deformation with added neutrons, in sharp contrast with neighboring isotopes of rubidium, strontium, and zirconium, which change shapes suddenly at neutron number 60. This study marks a decisive step towards an understanding of the limits of this quantum phase transition region.

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Juan Maldacena, Pondering Quantum Gravity by the Pond

One of the world’s preeminent theoretical physicists seeks a quiet place to think. …

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Holey pattern boosts coherence of nanomechanical membrane vibrations

Researchers have introduced a new type of nanomechanical resonator, in which a pattern of holes localizes vibrations to a small region in a 30 nm thick membrane. The pattern dramatically suppresses coupling to random fluctuations in the environment, boosting the vibrations’ coherence. The researchers’ quantitative understanding and numerical models provide a versatile blueprint for ultracoherent nanomechanical devices. Among others, this enables a new generation of nanomechanical sensors to probe quantum limits of mechanical measurements, and more sensitive force microscopy.

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Moonlighting Genes Evolve for a Venomous Job

An unexpected mechanism allows wasps to rapidly co-opt genes for new toxic functions. …

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The European quantum technologies flagship programme

Quantum technologies, such as quantum communication, computation, simulation as well as sensors and metrology, address and manipulate individual quantum states and make use of superposition and entanglement. Both companies and governments have realised the high disruptive potential of this technology. Consequently, the European Commission has announced an ambitious flagship programme to start in 2018. Here, we sum up the history leading to the quantum technologies flagship programme and outline its envisioned goals and structure. We also give an overview of the strategic research agenda for quantum communication, which the flagship will pursue during its 10-year runtime. …

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Researchers Check Space-Time to See if It’s Made of Quantum Bits

The newly developed theory of emergent gravity, proposed as an alternative to dark matter, struggles in one of its first trials. …

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Where Gravity Is Weak and Naked Singularities Are Verboten

Recent calculations tie together two conjectures about gravity, potentially revealing new truths about its elusive quantum nature. …

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Multiplexed entanglement generation over quantum networks using multi-qubit nodes

Quantum networks distributed over distances greater than a few kilometres will be limited by the time required for information to propagate between nodes. We analyse protocols that are able to circumvent this bottleneck by employing multi-qubit nodes and multiplexing. For each protocol, we investigate the key network parameters that determine its performance. We model achievable entangling rates based on the anticipated near-term performance of nitrogen-vacancy centres and other promising network platforms. This analysis allows us to compare the potential of the proposed multiplexed protocols in different regimes. Moreover, by identifying the gains that may be achieved by improving particular network parameters, our analysis suggests the most promising avenues for research and development of prototype quantum networks. …

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