Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have reported a way to measure the amount of laser light needed to shift the electrons in a type of quantum dot between two discrete states—a low energy, ground state and a higher energy, excited state. Quantum dots may be able to serve as the ones and zeros in a quantum computer, once physicists have the ability to turn them "on" and "off". NIST's and NREL's new technique measures the dipole moment directly by enclosing the dots in a cavity, a dimming laser light pulse passing over them repeatedly. This in turn helps measure the dipole moment, indicating how easy the dots are to excite. For details, go to http://nist.gov.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
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