Talk:Wikinews interviews Dr. Michael Mazilu on creating world's fastest spinning manmade object

Active discussions

OR notesEdit

I emailed Michael Mazilu the following yesterday:


Michael,

I'm a freelance reporter writing for Wikinews, the news-based sister to Wikipedia. I was most intrigued to hear my native Scotland is the home to the world's fastest-spinning manmade object, being myself a science student (although my area is marine science).

I'd be delighted if I could email you a few questions about the project and its potential implications for quantum physics research.

Best regards, [Me, myself, and I]


Today's response:


Dear Iain,

Sure. I am happy to try to answer your questions.

Best wishes,

Michael


Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 15:44, 9 September 2013 (UTC) The following emailed just now:


Hi Michael,

Questions are below. I'm well aware most are impossible to give definitive answers to, such is science; what I'm angling for is as much 'hard' scientific input/discussion as possible. The first really meaty Qs, 5 & 6, are headed in a pretty similar direction so you may want to merge them and give a single answer.

Looking through file images, I see a dearth of anything much on the subject. Do you have (or could you take) a picture or two of the equipment used that you'd be willing to donate under a free licence? (I'd recommend this one: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ ) Such would allow use on Wikipedia etc.

A picture of yourself (under the same licence) would also be most appreciated.

What first got you interested in researching quantum friction?

Press coverage has focused on the fact this is the fastest spinning manmade object ever created, but the aim of the experiment was to research quantum physics. How did you end up with this unusual record - was it by accident?

How was the sphere manufactured, and how long did it take?

How long did the sphere take to reach 600 million revs per minute and break up?

Could the high speeds attained be taken as evidence against quantum friction, as the sphere simply kept getting faster until it broke apart?

The experiment failed to conclusively prove quantum friction, but did it provide any evidence to support the theory?

How challenging is research of this sort? What kind of difficulties are encountered?

Previous research on the boundary between conventional and quantum physics has used atoms and individual molecules. Why was a sphere in excess of a million atoms appropriate for this experiment? Would that not move further away, rather than closer to, the boundary between the two?

How likely is this result to be an anomaly? Might a similar ball break up quicker, or be unable to spin as fast?

Where would you like to see the research go next? More spheres?

If confirmed, what applications might quantum friction have?

Thanks for your time,

Best,

Iain


Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:40, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

I got a reply today. In the meantime I'd contacted the other two so I've shot back one follow-up question and also asked if he's answering on behalf of the whole team. As it's now after 5:00pm in Scotland it's likely no reply will come til he goes back in to work tomorrow. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:28, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

The initial responses:


On 2013-09-12 11:07, Michael Mazilu wrote:

Hi Iain, Sorry for the delay. Here an attempt to answer your questions.

Looking through file images, I see a dearth of anything much on the subject. Do you have (or could you take) a picture or two of the equipment used that you'd be willing to donate under a free licence? (I'd recommend this one: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ [1] ) Such would allow use on Wikipedia etc.

Yes, see attached under free license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ [1]). The picture shows: in the middle the vacuum chamber with the focussing and collecting microscope objectives. The microscopic gyroscope is levitated by the laser beam coming from below which at the same time is used to apply a torque to the gyroscope. We detect the rotation and oscillation of the gyroscope using the light scattered by it and collected by the top microscope objective. The second figure tries to illustrate this with an red coloured overlay.

A picture of yourself (under the same licence) would also be most appreciated.

We are a team of three researchers and it doesn't feel right to send you a picture of myself only. Unfortunately we do not have a picture of all three of us together at the moment. Kishan Dholakia Michael Mazilu Yoshihiko Arita

What first got you interested in researching quantum friction?

The fundamental aspect that raised our interest is the mechanism that stops an object to rotate infinitely fast in absence of friction. Quantum friction is one possible but debatable mechanism that will ultimately limit the rotation rate. One can also imagine other interesting mechanisms and we hope that future experiments will be able to conclusively distinguish between them.

Press coverage has focused on the fact this is the fastest spinning manmade object ever created, but the aim of the experiment was to research quantum physics. How did you end up with this unusual record - was it by accident?

From the beginning we wanted to go for a very fast rotating sphere to test the limits of transfer of angular momentum of light. The motivation was to explore if we can see any anomaly arose as we rotated the particle faster and faster. The hope was to develop an experimental platform that would allow testing the boundary between classical and quantum physics. That this worked better then expected was a happy accident.

How was the sphere manufactured, and how long did it take?

The spheres are produced by mixing three chemical compounds together (CaCl2, MgSO4 and K2CO3) until the mixture becomes transparent. This happens in about 5 to 10 minutes and results in birefringent spherical vaterite crystals of 4.4 micrometer in diameter.

How long did the sphere take to reach 600 million revs per minute and break up?

The whole process takes about 10-20 minutes. It all depends on how fast we evacuate the vacuum chamber. If we do it too fast we risk lose the micro-gyroscope from the trap. With regard to the sphere breaking up: This is a working hypothesis that we are no able to prove yet. What we observe is that the signal corresponding to the rotating sphere disappears at 600 million RPM. We need further measures to verify if the sphere breaks up or if its motion is perturbed and it escapes in some slingshot or other motion

Could the high speeds attained be taken as evidence against quantum friction, as the sphere simply kept getting faster until it broke apart?

This is a very interesting question. The particle keeps getting faster and faster until the signal disappears, however, just before this happens we observe that the slope of the acceleration changes. This could be seen as a signature of “quantum friction” but we need to look more closely. Alternatively, it might be a consequence of the sphere deforming at such high rotation rates.

The experiment failed to conclusively prove quantum friction, but did it provide any evidence to support the theory?

The main goal of the experiment was not to prove or disprove quantum friction but to develop a tool that might be useful to carry out these studies in the near future. Though the micro-gyroscope that we studied sounds like a simple system its behaviour and interaction with the laser beam is very complex. In order to use this experiment to prove or disprove quantum friction it is first necessary to completely understand and model its complex behaviour. We need therefore more extensive experimental studies and more precise simulations.

How challenging is research of this sort? What kind of difficulties are encountered?

One of the challenges in this experiment is that it brings together many different parts of physics such as vacuum science, optical micro-manipulation, thermodynamics and potentially quantum mechanics. The main difficulty experimentally and theoretically is to combine all these fields simultaneously and make them work together to create a “clean” system that can test ‘friction’ or other theories.

Previous research on the boundary between conventional and quantum physics has used atoms and individual molecules. Why was a sphere in excess of a million atoms appropriate for this experiment? Would that not move further away, rather than closer to, the boundary between the two?

Quantum physics should not just be the remit of the world of atoms or molecules but should apply at all scales in some way. One of the main drives in present quantum technology is to create what is called mesoscopic or macroscopic quantum states, that is quantum states that can be see in a microscope. It is in the hope to achieve this that we chose to work with the micrometer sized vaterite crystals. The other reason for the size of the sphere is that we experimentally found that smaller spheres are presently more difficult to levitate.

How likely is this result to be an anomaly? Might a similar ball break up quicker, or be unable to spin as fast?

With respect to the sphere break-up, these are interesting questions. One can expect, that depending on the mechanical failure property of the sphere it would breakup sooner or later. Optically, we can make the sphere rotate at any speeds smaller than the maximum speed. So it would be very interesting to fabricate a series of spheres that have same optical properties but different mechanical failure points.

Where would you like to see the research go next? More spheres?

Indeed, two or more spheres would bring an additional degree of freedom to the experiments that would allow the study of the rotation rate as a function of the distance between them. Some theoretical predictions suggest that quantum friction effects might be enhanced in this case.

If confirmed, what applications might quantum friction have?

It is relatively easy to dream up applications for an effect that has not been observed yet! In general, friction dissipates energy and is seen as a detrimental effect. However, there are applications that use friction in a useful way. Indeed, velocity dependent friction could also be used to slow down microscopic objects to the point where these objects would reach what is called the quantum ground state for their centre of mass. Creating these states on demand would bring quantum technology a step closer and might lead us to “couple” quantum mechanically macrosocie objects - a phenomena more accurately termed entanglement.


I shot back:


Michael,

Don't worry about the delay, there wasn't a deadline on the report. I've just finished reading your responses and this is fascinating stuff! Thanks much for your time and the detail you've given, much appreciated.

I have three quick questions after reading:

Whom should I credit for the images? Yourself, or the three of you jointly, or possibly the university?

To be clear, are you answering on behalf of the whole team?

One follow-up question for publication: You said you found smaller spheres more difficult to levitate. Why is that?

Best,

Iain


The final response:


Dear Iain,

Please credit the image to Yoshihiko Arita. I am away from St Andrews at the moment and he took the image.

I am answering on my behalf however I have circulated my answers for comments/corrections to the team.

I have double checked the sphere size problem. While it might be more difficult to use smaller sphere in the experiment due to the trapping geometry, as it turns out this was a sphere synthesis problem. With our present method we were not able synthesis smaller spheres.

Best wishes,

Michael
Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 13:34, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Emailed the whole conversation to scoop. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 14:26, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

BBCEdit

I heard about this on the BBC News a few weeks ago, very exciting to see the same person answering questions for Wikinews. --Computron (talk) 15:47, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

It sure is really cool research! Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 15:51, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

"near Edinburgh"Edit

It occurs to me this ain't common knowledge to any non-Scots who may end up reviewing this. See the uni's location page. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:36, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

No infoboxEdit

Contrary to popular belief, an infobox isn't mandatory. I've culled this one to make room for all the myriad photos. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 14:09, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Review of revision 1984161 [Passed]Edit

Edit

Promoted to Featured Article today. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:38, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Miscellaneous mistakesEdit

  • The temperature of the cooled sphere should be quoted as "40 kelvins" and not "40 Kelvin".
  • A link to "quantum friction" would be pertinent when the term first appears.
  • The image caption should read "(1070 nm)" and not "(1070nm)".
  • The chemical formula requires subscripts: "CaCl2, MgSO4 and K2CO3" and not "CaCl2, MgSO4 and K2CO3".

Urhixidur (talk) 12:12, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Small copyedits are possible to archived articles, if they don't change the meaning (while errors of content require correction notice), per the archive policy.
  • "40 Kelvin" names the scale; it's not actually "wrong". It would be a typographical error to write "40 Kelvins" (the unit uses a lower-case "k").
  • When there's a target article quantum friction to link to, we'd behappy to link to it. Indeed, we wanted to give a link for quantum friction at the time. We don't do redlinks, though. Consider: our policy calls for local links when available, and when there's no local target and a link is appropriate, we're willing to link to a sister project; but to aggressively take the reader off our project for the sake of then telling them there is no target article? Not appropriate.
  • "(1070nm)" isn't in the image caption; it's part of the image, as provided by Dr. Mazilu. (In context, I'd also have to agree with the decision to typeset it that way, as a space there would gratuitously take up space.)
  • The use of subscripts in the chemical formulae... Hm. The non-subscripting usage is routine and not actually "wrong"; the subscripting usage isn't technically wrong, certainly, though I believe it's not usually used in news writing. A technical paper or encyclopedia entry would certainly prefer subscripting; here... I have doubts.
So, the first and fourth of these are, well, possible. I'd be interested to get the reporter's thoughts on them. --Pi zero (talk) 13:35, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
One and four could be done in theory, if anybody cares. I would suggest a perusal of wikt:mistake may be in order. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 17:47, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Return to "Wikinews interviews Dr. Michael Mazilu on creating world's fastest spinning manmade object" page.