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Majorana Fermion May Have Been Spotted At TU Delft

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the secrets-of-the-universe dept.

News 73

vikingpower writes "A research group at Technical University Delft around prof. Kouwenhoven has probably not only spotted pairs of so-called Majorana Fermions for the first time (these had been predicted to exist by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana), but also demonstrated that, by generating them at the end of an Indium-Arsenide microwire, quantum computing with them may have come one more step closer to reality. The excitement around Prof. Kouwenhoven at the American Physical Society annual congress in Boston, after he completed his presentation, was considerable.A nice illustration is provided by this newspaper article (in Dutch)."

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73 comments

Major anus Frostion May Have Posted At /. Derp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213409)

fer-roooow-sty

OMG... (-1, Offtopic)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213421)

OMG Im so Fermion right now....

Spotted! (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215289)

They quickly closed the curtains and Majorana read Fermion the riot act for leaving them open.

Now, the neighbors snicker whenever the two are spotted in public.

BTW, Majorana has a big ass.

Realized halfway through the summary... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213423)

It didn't say Marijuana

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214109)

"Marijuana may have been spotted at a university"... surely that couldn't ever be newsworthy in any way imaginable?

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214775)

I thought they were talking about Morgan Freeman.

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39222027)

Me too

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215727)

For a little while, I thought it was just one of the editors trying to sound the word out.

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215903)

I had to read it a few times myself.

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39217147)

I had to read it a few times myself.

I thought of Butters.

Re:Realized halfway through the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39220733)

I'm dyslexic so I totally thought this was about Marijuana.

Majorana != Bajoran (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213499)

At first glance I thought we had a serious particle physics breakthrough out on Deep Space Nine.

Re:Majorana != Bajoran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214969)

Admit it. You just wanted Major Kira and Jadzia Dax to get seriously physical.

What? (1, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213557)

Is that the female orgasm or something?

Re:What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213681)

Is that the female orgasm or something?

How many times do I have to tell you... most women aren't physically attracted to high energy physics experiments like you are!

Re:What? (0)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213741)

Perhaps, but there are some women I'd still love to perform "high energy physics experiments" with, any night of the year. ;)

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214347)

When you get older, the courting and act of sex for the 2 second blast of Serotonin, really loses its appeal... especially when in competition with sleep.

Re:What? (0)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214927)

"especially when in competition with sleep"

So...

You're saying she falls asleep whenever you do that?

Eiher you got some bad technique, or she's got one heck of a case of narcolepsy.

Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213559)

The picture and article differ in the wire composition, so which is it?
indium-antimonide or indium-arsenide?

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (4, Informative)

Imrik (148191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213775)

The picture and article agree, only the summary says different, I think you can guess which is wrong.

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213815)

Plus, it's not like AC is going to reproduce this experiment, so stop being so damn anal.

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213833)

Yes, the summary is correct (the FA proofers should be canned for letting that through).

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215869)

A big *whoosh* to whoever modded this informative...

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218969)

Informative gives karma, funny doesn't.

Re:Picture label wrong, it's indium-antimonide, (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39221063)

Funny raises you up in peoples views, and AC doesn't really need karma.

Now why didn't I think of that? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213607)

I like to think that I have an okay understanding of how my computer works. When quantum computing becomes mainstream a computer will truly be a mystical device with magical power, but I'll still just use mine to play sudoku while I'm on the bus.

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (2)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213667)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. But it is not magic.

Moral of the story?
There is no such thing as magic.

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213751)

Any cool ass magic will be indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology.

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215581)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. But it is not magic.

Moral of the story?

If you understand that concept, then there is no such thing as "sufficiently advanced technology."

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (1, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215833)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. But it is not magic. Moral of the story? There is no such thing as magic.

"All A is B" does not prove "All B is A".

The fact that you might find some advanced technology that will allow you to turn water into wine doesn't mean that when I do it it isn't magic, only that when YOU do it it isn't. Magic is the process, not the end result.

There is currently technology that will take elemental carbon and produce diamonds in the laboratory. That doesn't mean that every diamond on the planet was produced in a laboratory.

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39221091)

Wrong. In fact,. that was a pretty lame way to try and support and incorrect assumption in the quote.

I can' look at technology I don't understand and know it isn't magic.

"That doesn't mean that every diamond on the planet was produced in a laboratory."
true but they weren't produced by magic.

Re:Now why didn't I think of that? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39225811)

true but they weren't produced by magic.

I didn't say they were. What I said is that the existance of a "sufficiently advanced technology" doesn't prove that diamonds cannot be produced in any other way. Diamonds are an example not because I think they are produced by "magic", but because the technological source doesn't prove anything about any other source in such an obvious way that I didn't think I'd have to answer ridiculous claims that I thought they were all magic.

Yeah Yeah ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213673)

quantum computing with them may have come one more step closer to reality ..

With so many similar announcements in recent times, quantum computing should already be here ... why is it taking so long ?? Is it a case of: Its there, but, if I see it, its not there??

Re:Yeah Yeah ... (2)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214305)

It takes many small steps to complete a long journey. You seeing many similar announcements because progress is being made...

Condensed Matter (5, Informative)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213829)

Note we're talking about condensed matter physics here, so this isn't the discovery of a fundamental particle that is a Majorana fermion, just a composite particle (similar to a Cooper pair) that appears to behave like a Majorana fermion. I'm sure this is an exciting discovery, but I tend to get more excited about fundamental particle discoveries.

BTW, maybe someone can enlighten me further, but since neutrinos have mass wouldn't they probably have to be Majorana fermion? You could catch up to a neutrino and make it appear as right-handed in some reference frame which would presumably make it's anti-matter right-handed counterpart? Neutrinoless double-beta decay is what would confirm that, right?

Re:Condensed Matter (-1, Offtopic)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213871)

Oh man, you are so out there right now that I have to smoke some Majorana to even think about getting on your level.

Re:Condensed Matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214293)

Yes, neutinoless double-beta decay is the smoking gun for Majorana neutrinos. However, there is no good theoretical reason for neutrinos to be Majorana; they should be Dirac particles, just like every other fermion in existence. It's one of those things that isn't ruled out by experiment yet and gets certain kinds of model-builders all excited.

On the one hand, everybody thought parity was a good symmetry when P-breaking was not ruled out by experiment, and the discover of parity-breaking was fundamental to the development of the Standard Model. On the other hand, every other stupid idea people have had over the years. ("Crazy theories: 1; regular theories: a billion.") Somebody should measure it, but it won't amount to anything.

Re:Condensed Matter (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215891)

Yeah I was wondering why I was seeing this first on Slashdot before any of the particle blogs.

not a real elementary particle (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213853)

This is not a discovery of real elementary particle, instead it is a quasiparticle. It behaves (in its quantum properties) like Majorana Fermions, much in the same way a "hole" in a semiconductor behaves like a positively charged particle.

Was the FBI in time... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213907)

...to arrest that bitch...?

4-1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39213971)

An automatically scheduled press release and someone mistyped: '4' and '3' are rather close on a keyboard.

The hole thing reads like an April's fools joke. Tell me this ain't so.

Re:4-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214625)

s/The hole thing/The whole thing/g

Re:4-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39220331)

Thank you for your typo fix. Good boy.

Psss.. this might be a liitle hard for a US fuckboy to understand.. there are some things called 'countries' ouitside of the Fine US of Fine A. Countries where they speak other languages than American English. Did not get it? Countries? Does not ring a bell? Well, the things the idiots you elect as presidents on a regular basis drop bombs on. Ya know, the things that are full of people that want to destroy the Sacred and Holy, Given by Gods, American Way Of Life.

Now, fuck off.

ME3? (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214059)

How the hell did Delft get ME3 ahead of the rest of us? What are Majorana's loyalty mission and romance options?

Marijuana Fermion?!? (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214085)

I honestly read it as, "Marijuana Majorana Fermion May..." not "Majorana Fermion May..."

Too much on my mind, I guess.

for most /.ers... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214249)

this is probably the first time they heard of Majorana Fermions. In a bit you'll see visits to wikipedia spiking and suddenly everyone's an expert on Majorana Fermions. For the rest who can't be bothered to understand the topic, they'll joke about Marijuana and what not.

That is all.

J.

At the risk of losing any nerd cred I ever had... (0)

eegad (588763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214337)

I can't help admit that my first thought was, who the hell is Majorana Fermion? I dunno, but I like her already! I'm glad they found her!

Cold Fusion (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214419)

As long as this isn't similar to previous claims of Cold Fusion in tupperware and the Emperor getting new 'clothes' then it may be something to get excited about.

Translated and edited Dutch news article (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39214451)

I may or may not have butchered this, but I think its better than googles. All edits from original google translation are mine, as are any omissions.

--

Since 1937, physicists in Delft have sought to observe evidence of Majorana fermions, a fundamental particle whose properties may soon be used in quantum supercomputing.

Recently, Delft physicists have claimed to be the first to create this exotic new elementary particle, showing in addition how it can play a key role in the supercomputer of the future. They made their discovery not in a giant particle accelerator, but at the intersection of superconducting nanowires on a chip.

Prof. Leo Kouwenhoven, who made the discovery, announced the results at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS). The news caused a wave of excitement among the thousands of present physicists. A reporter of the weekly Nature likened the situation to a busy train station during rush hour.

"Have we seen Majorana fermions? I'd say a cautious 'yes'", stated Kouwenhoven at the end of his presentation in Boston. Other physicists said that the Delft measurements cannot be explained other than by the presence of a Majorana-like particle.

The results have been published in the journal "Physical Review Letters". The so-called Majorana-fermion is one of the strangest elementary particles that physicists know, at least on paper. The possible existence was predicted in 1937 by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana (1906-1938). Since then, physicists have looked everywhere for natural Majorana particles, but without success. Several years ago, attention was shifted to the observable effects in some solids which Majorana particles would create.

The Delft group found the first indications of the Majorana particles at the ends of a partially superconducting microscopic thread of indium antimonide. Kouwenhoven has long been investigating such nanowires -- last year he received a grant of one million dollars of software maker Microsoft for his quest for the artificial-Majorana fermion. Even physics financier FOM put up one million.

Microsoft's interest stems from the possibility of computer memory with Majorana particles. Such a computer would not use 1 or 0 bit states; Instead, it will use quantum bits, which facilitate much more computation. The problem with such a quantum computer is that quantum bits are sensitive to disturbances. Pairs of Majorana particles form an exception. They can be disrupted, but owing to their special mathematical properties, they always spring back to their original state. That is a desired property for a robust quantum memory system.

In the research, each memory element comprises a nanowire of indium-arsenide in which two electrodes with the underlying quasi-particles produce so-called Majorana's. These are not sensitive to external disturbances causing an internal conditions change. The two Majorana on each of the elements form together a qubit. Qubits are the ones and zeros which allow a quantum computer to carry out numerous calculations simultaneously, instead of all the calculation steps one by one, as in conventional computers.

My old flame (-1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214627)

Majorana Fermion May Have Been Spotted

I dated her back in grad school. One of those foreign students. She never shaved under her arms, and was often redolent of garlic, but man, she did this thing with her thumb and forefinger...

I remember her having nice clear skin, so I'm surprised to hear that she was spotted.

Re:My old flame (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215987)

Majorana Fermion May Have Been Spotted

I dated her back in grad school. One of those foreign students. She never shaved under her arms, and was often redolent of garlic, but man, she did this thing with her thumb and forefinger...

I remember her having nice clear skin, so I'm surprised to hear that she was spotted.

It was spotlights that did it. Amateurs are ruining everything.

[a,a+]=1 (3, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215037)

OK, Majorana Fermion is a particle for which a=a+
But by definition the second quantization operators [a,a+]=(aa+)-(a+a)=1

So we have a contradiction here, because if a=a+, then [a,a+]=0, which does not obey to the definition of second quantization operator.

Someone cares to enlighten me?

How do those Majorana a and a+ operators look in positional representation? How does the first wave function look like?

I'll try later to find original Majorana papers, but in meantime if you have some hints I'd be glad to hear.

Re:[a,a+]=1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215545)

They are fermions so {a,a+}=1 not [a,a+]=1 because fermions obey anti-commutation relations due to the spin commutation rule (spin 1/2 particles anti-commute while spin 1 and spin0 particles commute...

Re:[a,a+]=1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39216829)

So it's brackets not parentheses, and all becomes clear.

Where's Homer when I need him to guide me to the bar?

Re:[a,a+]=1 (3, Insightful)

zakaryah (1344891) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215643)

For fermions, the canonical commutation relations must use the anticommutator: {a,b} = ab + ba. The Majorana fermion is a fermion. But, that doesn't completely answer your question, since you could correctly apply your reasoning to bosons which are their own antiparticle, like the photon, to claim that [a,a+]=0. But you have to keep in mind that the antiparticle of a photon is time-reversed compared to that photon - a+ and a are still distinct.

Re:[a,a+]=1 (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215781)

thanks, now it all started to make sense. But I'm still curious how does this operator exactly look like in position representation.

Re:[a,a+]=1 (2)

zakaryah (1344891) | more than 2 years ago | (#39216483)

It depends on the Hamiltonian. But, you can calculate it in the following way for some systems you are familiar with: Let a+ and a be creation/annihilation operators for your (non-Majorana) fermion. You can define new operators, which obey the commutation relation for fermions: b = (a+ + a)/2 and b' = (a+ - a)/2i. But both of these operators satisfy bi = bi+, so the quasiparticles on which these operators act are Majorana fermions. If you want the position representation for b or b', you just need the position representations of the underlying ladder operators a+ and a.

its not marijuana farimones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215141)

its not marijuana farimones?/

Can somebody please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39215267)

Can somebody please explain why there is such a diversity of subatomic particles below the level of protons, neutrons, electrons and photons? It seems like all the properties of bosons/fermions etc. are used to give the "larger" particles their properties, but pretty much the entire behavior of the physical world as we know it is the way it is due to the properties of these larger particles that directly constitute atoms and photons, not (directly) due to the properties of the smaller particles that make up their parts. In other words, all the rich complexity of the smaller subatomic particles seems to be "packaged up" into an interface layer or "physical API" that is rather simple -- the properties of neutrons, protons, electrons and photons are well-defined and don't require the exotic behavior of the smaller particles per se. If the argument is that the smaller particles are needed to explain the behavior of the larger particles, then you can turn around and say, what conveys the observed behavior on the smaller particles? Still smaller particles? ... Anybody?

Re:Can somebody please explain (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39216345)

Aaaaaa, ooooooo. EEEEEEE. Look at all the different sounds! Wababababa! I just discovered another one! Let's publish a paper!

To a mind that actually understands how it all works this is what it must seem like we are doing...

There is no such thing as "atom", or Top Down Construction.

Everything is one of 4 Elements: Earth Wind Fire Water -- No, that was wrong, we discovered Atoms! Atoms are indivisible, atomic, structures that make up matter via molecular bonds. No, wait, atoms are made of still smaller somethings... Electrons and Protons and Neutrons... Ah, but there are still smaller particles than those, Quarks! And those seem to be made of something else too! We've found similar patterns amongst various tiny "things", each interference pattern acts like a particle and a wave too! My, if you look closely, doesn't it seem that some of those particles share a few similar sub-patterns?

Eureka! OOOs and EEEs are made of vibrations!

The structure of the matter is actually near infinitely complex. Those who have said otherwise have or will be be proven wrong. Ever wonder why atomic weights vary from place to place? Oh, it's quite obvious. Each atom is a unique sample of the universe... Sure, all those particles and waves exist, and interact in different ways, and we can classify them by their interactions into even more distinct subdivisions, we can even derive equations that are approximations of their interactions, yet they remain only 'rough' approximations.

As our instruments get more precise we discover more and more about the process by which space-time and energy are entwined to form matter -- However, we don't understand that fundamental process by which stable energy / space-time waveform configurations are determined. Thus, they seem infinitely complex, and just as different at the smaller scales as an OOO is from an EEE under extreme magnification -- When you start at the top and look down, this rabbit hole is very deep. We're really doing our best to probe it.

Cue the downmods and comforting denialists.

Re:Can somebody please explain (3, Informative)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39217669)

Ever wonder why atomic weights vary from place to place?

No, because they don't. The mass of avagadro's number of carbon 12 atoms is the same - 12 grams - everywhere. The weight might differ due to G not being constant across earth but that's not exactly news either. And if atomic weights did depend on where you are in space, there's be all kinds of zomgwtf effects that would've been seen a long time ago.

Re:Can somebody please explain (1)

hicksw (716194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39221721)

Ever wonder why atomic weights vary from place to place?

Isotope ratios vary from place to place.
--
Law of truly large numbers - almost all numbers are larger than you can imagine.

Re:Can somebody please explain (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39221147)

You don't know wtf you are talking about.

for example, lets look at this FAIL:
"atomic weights vary"

no.

You should be down modded, because your post is stupid. Too bad we don't have a -1 ignorant.

Particle of the week (1)

tchernik (2494258) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215479)

For a moment I felt I was in one of those Star Trek TNG episodes where the plot advances thanks to an ad hoc particle/field that can be polarity-reversed. Usually the particle/field in question was seldom, or never mentioned later. Talk of science imitating art.

Oulde Neuws (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39216093)

This is old news. When I was at Deltares a couple of years ago, they had three or four mating pairs of Majorana Fermions swimming in the pool near their main offices. I don't think they were spotted, though. They were speckled.

That's pretty close to TU Delft, so maybe the ones TU Delft has found are one of the pairs from Deltares?

At least I THINK that's what the Dutch speaking guide called them.

Re:Oulde Neuws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218579)

You misspelled 'oud nieuws'

The excitement around prof. Kouwenhoven (1)

lolococo (574827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219151)

Can I get some excitment around me too?
I haven't been laid in a while ...
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