Entangled toy universe shows time may be an illusion

 

Time is an illusion – at least in a toy model of the universe made of two particles of light. The experiment shows that what we perceive as the passage of time might emerge from the strange property of quantum entanglementMovie Camera. The finding could assist in solving the long-standing problem of how to unify modern physics.

Physicists have two ways of describing reality, quantum mechanics for the small world of particles and general relativity for the larger world of planets and black holes. But the two theories do not get along: attempts to combine their equations into a unified theory produce seemingly nonsensical answers. One early attempt in the 1960s was the Wheeler-DeWitt equation, which managed to quantise general relativity – by leaving out time altogether.

“It means that the universe should not evolve. But of course we see evolution,” says Marco Genovese at the National Institute of Metrological Research in Torino, Italy.

In 1983 theorists Don Page and William Wootters suggested that quantum entanglement might provide a solution to the Wheeler-DeWitt “problem of time”Movie Camera. When quantum objects are entangled, measuring the properties of one changes those of the other. Mathematically, they showed that a clock entangled with the rest of the universe would appear to tick when viewed by an observer within that universe. But if a hypothetical observer existed outside the universe, when they looked in, everything would appear stationary.

Photon clock

For the first time, Genovese and colleagues have demonstrated this effect in a physical system, albeit in a “universe” that contains only two photons. The team started by sending a pair of entangled photons along two separate paths. The photons start out polarised, or orientated, either horizontally or vertically, and the polarisation rotates as both photons pass though a quartz plate and on to a series of detectors.

The entangled photons exist in a superposition of both horizontal and vertical states simultaneously until they are observed. But the thicker the plate, the longer it takes the photons to pass through and the more their polarisation evolves, affecting the probability that either one will take a particular value.

In one mode of the experiment, one of the photons is treated like a clock with a tick that can alternate between horizontal and vertical polarisation. Because of entanglement, reading this clock will affect the polarisation value of the second photon. That means an observer that reads the clock influences the photons’ universe and becomes part of it. The observer is then able to gauge the polarisation value of the other photon based on quantum probabilities.

Since photons passing through a thicker quartz plate experience a different degree of change, repeating the experiment with plates of different thicknesses confirms that the second photon’s polarisation varies with time.

In another mode, the experimenter is a “super-observer” that exists outside of the universe, and so measures the quantum state of the system as a whole. From that vantage point, the state of both photons taken together is always the same, giving the appearance of a static universe.

Quantum cosmos?

“It’s very nice these people have done an experiment to illustrate this effect and show how in practice it can occur,” says Page, who is now at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

But not everyone thinks the Wheeler-DeWitt equation is the correct route to unification of the quantum and classical worlds, says Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. “They have verified in the context of a laboratory system that quantum mechanics is working correctly,” he says. But Smolin argues that any correct description of the universe must include time.

Genovese acknowledges that the result does not cinch the issue. Instead, he sees the work as a hint that quantum equations can in some ways mesh with general relativity, offering hope for a unified theory. The next step will be moving beyond the toy universe and seeing whether a similar effect scales up to explain what we see on a cosmic level.

“It’s a visualisation of the phenomenon, it’s not a proof,” Genovese says of the experiment. “You should look to the universe itself for that.”

Journal reference: arxiv.org/abs/1310.4691

Bizarre Complaint Against L.A.-Area School

 

 

 

By MATT REYNOLDS

 

SAN BERNARDINO (CN) – A Los Angeles-area school district refused to discipline an elementary teacher who stuck a “long object” up a boy’s rectum while telling him “good boys don’t cry,” the mother claims in court.

Maria Naranjo sued the Ontario Montclair School District, its school board, superintendent and the principal of Mariposa Elementary School, in Superior Court.

In her complaint, she accuses the district of “harboring suspected child abusers/predators.”

The teacher who allegedly did it, Brandie Zuk, is not a party to the lawsuit.

Naranjo says her son, C.A., no longer attends Mariposa Elementary, in Ontario, where the mom claims the assault occurred.

The complaint states: “On August 31, 2011, C.A. was sitting in his classroom with his classmates when his teacher, Zuk, began screaming at him and told him to follow her. Zuk forced C.A. out of the classroom and took him to the bathroom.

“Once in the bathroom, Zuk locked the bathroom door behind them and obligated C.A. to enter one of the stalls. Zuk then pulled C.A’s pants and underwear down. Zuk stood behind C.A. and inserted a long object up his rectum several times. C.A. began crying due to the physical pain he was experiencing. In response to C.A.’s cries, Zuk said, ‘Good boys don’t cry.’ After inserting the object up C.A’s rectum several times, C.A. began to bleed. Zuk then stopped her assault on the boy. C.A. pulled up his underwear and pants and was escorted back to his classroom by Zuk.”

Naranjo claims that when she picked up her son from school she found him with the school nurse, who told her the boy had been sent to the nurse’s office because he was feeling sick.

“As soon as Naranjo and C.A. left school grounds, C.A. began to cry and told his mom that Zuk had hurt him and that his butt hurt. Naranjo immediately became alarmed and asked C.A. to tell her what had happened. C.A. accounted to Naranjo how Zuk had taken him to the bathroom and stuck an object up his rectum several times,” the complaint states.

Naranjo says she complained to defendant principal Miriam Locklair, who “trivialized” the incident and denied that Zuk had done anything wrong. Naranjo claims Locklair did this even after C.A. “recreated” what had “happened from where he was sitting when Zuk screamed at him to the bathroom stall where Zuk assaulted him.”

Naranjo claims that a doctor found “rectal lacerations that pointed towards sexual assault,” and that she reported the incident to the police, but the school district neither investigated nor fired Zuk.

“Naranjo was ridiculed and belittled when she approached Mariposa and OMSD [Ontario Montclair School District] officials following the police report,” the complaint states. “Her son’s abuse continued to be trivialized and questioned by administrators at Mariposa and OMSD. Plaintiff has it on information and belief that Mariposa administrators never investigated or disciplined Zuk. She was also never removed from the campus and is still a teacher there.”

Superintendent James Hammond and all the members of the school board also are named as defendants.

Naranjo seeks punitive damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of California’s Bane Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and medical and legal costs.

She and her son are represented by Brian Claypool, of Pasadena.

Ontario, pop. 165,000, is 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

School district officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/11/55583.htm

 

 

Research dispels myth that sudden cardiac arrests happens mainly during sports

Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser jfraser@hsf.ca 613-569-4361 x273 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Sudden cardiac death in Ontario under age 40 – is exercise dangerous?

It’s a tragic news story that often makes headlines – a young, healthy, fit athlete suddenly collapses and dies of cardiac arrest while playing sports.

Dr. Andrew Krahn of the University of British Columbia, presenting a study at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress about sudden cardiac death in Ontario, suggests this is a problem that warrants attention, but says don’t blame the sports.

Reviewing coroners’ reports, Dr. Krahn and a team of researchers found there were 174 cases of presumed sudden death in Ontario in 2008 in people aged two to 40 years.

Heart disease was present in 126 cases (72 per cent), 78 per cent of which was unrecognized. The majority of victims were male (76 per cent) between the ages of 18 and 40 (90 per cent).

With sudden cardiac death, people who seem to be perfectly healthy can die suddenly. Each year up to 40,000 Canadians die of sudden cardiac arrest. A significant proportion of these cases occur in otherwise healthy, young individuals.

Dr. Krahn’s research dispels a myth that sudden cardiac death often takes place during rigorous physical activity. In fact, he found the majority of events (72 per cent) occurred at home.

Only 33 per cent of events involving children/adolescents and just nine per cent of events in adults occurred during moderate or vigorous exercise.

“Put it this way: If you have a 13-year-old kid who is not the star athlete who dies at home watching TV, it doesn’t make the news,” said Dr. Krahn. “But if the same kid is a high school quarterback or hockey star, then it’s covered.”

Regardless of the location of the cardiac event, Dr. Krahn believes his research sheds some light on this issue.

“This research gives us an idea of the scope of the problem – there are almost 200 young people who die suddenly every year in Ontario. A good proportion of them have unrecognized heart disease. So the question is: How can we catch this before it happens?”

He suggests more attention be paid to possible warning signs such as fainting. He believes that teachers, coaches and an aware public may be key to detecting risk, ensuring prevention and formal medical evaluation and therapy.

“I would advocate for careful screening of people who faint, using questionnaires and education of healthcare professionals so that when warning signs present themselves, they recognize them and this information gets passed on to the right people,” he says.

A nationwide screening program would be the most effective measure but there isn’t currently such a thing in Canada, says Dr. Krahn. “Unfortunately, we lack a simple, inexpensive test that is ideally used for screening,” he says. “There is a global debate about the merits of screening, which is not performed in most countries.”

Still, there are other measures that could potentially save lives, feels Dr. Beth Abramson, a Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher.

Training in CPR and the placement of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, arenas and gyms could save the lives of many of these people, she says.

“Our goal is to make AEDs as available as fire extinguishers in public places from Yellowknife to St. John’s,” says Dr. Abramson. “The odds of surviving a cardiac arrest can increase to up to 75 per cent when early CPR is used in combination with an AED in the first few minutes.” Since 2006, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has helped place more than 3,000 AEDs in schools and other public spaces.

The importance of AEDs was demonstrated this past summer when NHL hockey player Brett MacLean suffered a cardiac arrest at an arena in Owen Sound, Ont., during a pick-up game with friends. Players immediately performed CPR on the ice, while a spectator retrieved the AED in the arena.

Through their action, the 23-year-old survived and is currently recovering his home town of Port Elgin.

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The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy.

Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

For more information and/or interviews, contact the CCC 2012 MEDIA OFFICE AT 416-585-3781 (Oct 28-31)

OR

Diane Hargrave Public Relations 416-467-9954 ext. 104 dhprbks@interlog.com

Congress information and media registration is at www.cardiocongress.org

After October 31, 2012 contact:

Jane-Diane Fraser Heart and Stroke Foundation (613) 569-4361 ext 273
jfraser@hsf.ca

Statins increase risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients: 28% Increase

Contact: Kristine Galka
kristine.galka@ices.on.ca
416-480-4780
Canadian Medical Association Journal

The use of statins is associated with a 28% increased risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients, found University of Toronto professor Dr. Donald Redelmeier and colleagues in a retrospective cohort analysis involving more than 280 000 patients.

Ontario’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) looked at elderly patients who underwent elective surgery in Ontario and who had received 2 or more prescriptions for statins in the year before surgery, including at least one prescription in the 90 days preceding surgery. Many patients took multiple medications, underwent abdominal, musculoskeletal or urogenital surgery which had a mean duration of about 115 minutes.

Delirium, in addition to causing anxiety in patients and families, contributes to longer hospital stays, a prolonged need for intensive care, and can disrupt and delay care.

They found that 1 in 14 elderly patients were taking statins before surgery and 1 in 90 experienced delirium. Longer surgeries and age over 70 years increased the risk of delirium.

“Our results suggest that this association was more than a coincidence, particularly among patients who received higher doses of statins and had longer duration noncardiac surgeries,” state Dr. Redelmeier and colleagues. “The association between statins and risk of delirium was distinct and was not observed with other lipid-lowering medications, cardiovascular medications or common drugs that reflect underlying chronic diseases but have no major effects on the cardiovascular system.”

The researchers suggest patients temporarily stop taking statins before surgery to lower their risk. If needed, restarting statins after surgery might provide their heart protecting benefits without the risk of delirium.

 

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In a related commentary, Dr. Marcantonio of Harvard Medical School says that it is premature to recommend stopping statin therapy in this patient population and that more research is needed before changing practice.

Contact for research: Kristine Galka, ICES, 416-480-4780, kristine.galka@ices.on.ca, for Dr. Donald Redelmeier

Contact for commentary: Sydney Balise, Harvard Medical School, 617-754-1409 for Dr. Marcantonio

Concern about plans to close unique Canadian environmental project

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

The Canadian government’s plans to discontinue in 2013 a unique environmental research project that has yielded insights into water pollution, climate change and other topics for almost 40 years would be a “huge loss not only to science but to the scientific heritage of humanity.” That’s the focus of a viewpoint article in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

J. G. Hering, D. L. Swackhamer and W. H. Schlesinger explain that the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) comprises 58 freshwater lakes and their watersheds in remote areas of the province of Ontario, where researchers can study how human influences impact complex, real-world waterways. The governments of Canada and Ontario put these waters under protection in 1968. Since then, scientists from around the world have conducted numerous long-term and ecosystem-scale experiments, producing 750 peer-reviewed reports, that the authors say would have been impossible elsewhere.

The Canadian government’s plans to shutter the ELA fostered widespread concern among scientists. The authors reflect that concern in arguing: “In a world facing unprecedented effects of global climate change, we can ill afford to abandon a facility that offers the unique combination of long-term monitoring and the capacity for ecosystem-scale experimentation.”

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Study finds increasing atmospheric concentrations of new flame retardants

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Compounds used in new flame-retardant products are showing up in the environment at increasing concentrations, according to a recent study by researchers at Indiana University Bloomington.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, reports on concentrations of two compounds measured in atmospheric samples collected in the Great Lakes region between 2008 and 2010. Authors are doctoral student Yuning Ma, Assistant Research Scientist Marta Venier and Distinguished Professor Ronald A. Hites, all of the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The chemicals — 2-ethylhexyl tetrabromobenzoate, also known as TBB; and bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate, or TBPH — are used to reduce flammability in such products as electronic devices, textiles, plastics, coatings and polyurethane foams.

They are included in commercial mixtures that were introduced in recent years to replace polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), widely used flame retardants that have been or are being removed from the market because of their tendency to leak from products into the environment.

“We find that the environmental concentrations of these compounds are increasing rather rapidly,” Hites said. “It’s rare to find that concentrations of any compound are doubling within a year or two, which is what we’re seeing with TBB and TBPH.”

The researchers measured concentrations of TBB and TBPH in 507 air samples collected at six locations on the shores of the Great Lakes. The samples were collected by the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, a joint U.S.-Canada project, conducted by IU researchers, to monitor airborne toxic chemicals that are deposited in the Great Lakes.

The results constitute the first self-consistent data set that shows environmental concentrations of TBB and TBPH increasing relatively rapidly. Previous studies have found the compounds in sewage sludge in California, marine mammals in Hong Kong and household dust and furniture foam in the U.S.

As would be expected, the IU researchers found the largest concentrations of TBB and TBPH in atmospheric samples collected in urban areas: Chicago and, especially, Cleveland. But the compounds were also detected in about half the samples from remote sites at Sleeping Bear Dunes and Eagle Harbor in Michigan and Point Petre in Ontario, Canada. They also were detected at rural Sturgeon Point, N.Y.

TBPH was detected more frequently and in higher concentrations than TBB. The concentrations are similar to those reported previously by Hites and Venier for PBDEs at the Great Lakes sites, suggesting the newer-generation flame retardants may be replacing their predecessors in the environment.