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Photonics Trick Finesses Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Experiment bolsters Bohmian mechanics, an alternative to quantum mechanics theory, and tests possible new tools for semiconductor physics

3 min read

2 June 2011—An unconventional alternative to quantum mechanics gets a boost this week with a new experiment that tracks the path of individual photons. And the alternative theory, Bohmian mechanics, and the novel photonics technology behind the experiment find possible applications in everything from simulating complex molecules to quantum tunneling.

In the traditional view of quantum phenomena, photons are both waves and particles—the latter manifesting as clouds of probability that can’t be precisely pinpointed. The canonical Heisenberg uncertainty principle restricts measuring both a particle’s position and velocity: Knowledge of one characteristic makes it difficult to measure the other. If you try to find out too much about the particle, the impact of your observation will alter the property of that particle.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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