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Quantum-Tunneling Electrons Could Make Semiconductors Obsolete

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the brain-for-790 dept.

Hardware 276

Nerval's Lobster writes "The powerful, reliable combination of transistors and semiconductors in computer processors could give way to systems built on the way electrons misbehave, all of it contained in circuits that warp even the most basic rules of physics. Rather than relying on a predictable flow of electrons that appear to know whether they are particles or waves, the new approach depends on quantum tunneling, in which electrons given the right incentive can travel faster than light, appear to arrive at a new location before having left the old one, and pass straight through barriers that should be able to hold them back. Quantum tunneling is one of a series of quantum-mechanics-related techniques being developed as possible replacements for transistors embedded in semiconducting materials such as silicon. Unlike traditional transistors, circuits built by creating pathways for electrons to travel across a bed of nanotubes are not limited by any size restriction relevant to current manufacturing methods, require far less power than even the tiniest transistors, and do not give off heat or leak electricity as waste products, according to Yoke Khin Yap of Michigan Technological University, lead author of a paper describing the technique, which was published in the journal Advanced Materials last week."

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gasp! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097619)

You mean the 1950s are back? Tunnel diodes were supposed to rule the world back then too! How exciting!

Re:gasp! (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44097639)

You mean the 1950s are back? Tunnel diodes were supposed to rule the world back then too! How exciting!

Tunneling is an old friend. It's also used for erasing NOR Flash.

Story time (5, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#44098413)

When I was young kid, in the early 1960's, I visited a ham radio operator a bunch of times. Cool radios, etc. He taught me some key things about tubes, started a long slide into technology that still hasn't stopped. I asked him about transistors. He looked at me somewhat askance and said "yeah, "I heard about them things. Tubes, son. I know tubes." And went back to teaching me about tubes, and resonance, and etc. Outside of his place, I hooked into an NRI electronics course, and spent a summer sucking that down, while running to my older friend Tony to help me with the math. NRI was teaching tubes then too, but they had an excellent section on transistors, and so I grew comfortable with them just as they were becoming interesting and more widely used. Tubes, except for certain specific jobs, just aren't used much now as we all know, and I've always been grateful for my luck in terms of timing; a few years earlier, and I'd have been looking askance at transistors myself. But instead, I've been comfortable with semiconductors right up until they got too small for me to handle (surface mount, trembling hands, etc.) And I know tubes.

The idea that another revolution of similar importance may happen in my lifetime...

Damn. I just feel like one amazingly lucky fellow. :) Now, will I be able to grasp the tech if it makes it to market? That, as they say, remains to be seen. Getting older doesn't mean you're without a clue. It just means you no longer always know where you put them.

Re:gasp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097725)

"circuits built by creating pathways for electrons to travel across a bed of nanotubes are not limited by any size restriction relevant to current manufacturing methods, require far less power than even the tiniest transistors, and do not give off heat or leak electricity as waste products,"

"You mean the 1950s are back?"

        Damn close, they described the similar shit in the first star trek series and practically the same later on.

Josephen called (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year ago | (#44097831)

He wants his junction back

Re:gasp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097861)

“everything’s stolen nowadays. Why the fax machine is nothing but a waffle iron with a phone attached.”

Faster than Light? (0)

afarhan (199140) | about a year ago | (#44097623)

Can't the slashdot editors be more active with their copy? Nothing goes faster than light. period.

Re:Faster than Light? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097631)

Except, you know, space itself. Period.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#44098385)

But space isn't something. Period. That's why expansion of distance between two somethings with nothing between can exceed light speed.

As far as we understand it right now, I should add.

Re:Faster than Light? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097637)

Wow, quantum tunneling electronics, another advanced technological innovation invented by black people! Oh wait, no it isn't.

The only thing blacks "invented" is the process of turning a pistol sideways ("gangsta") to facilitate the production of terrible marksmanship.

Re:Faster than Light? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097679)

I didn't know Paula Deen read slashdot....

She doesn't . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097923)

But her big fat audience does.

Re:Faster than Light? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097991)

I didn't know Paula Deen read slashdot....

So naming an aging fat chick with a distinctly psychotic look in her eyes means what? That you can name the black scientists who participated in this discovery? No? Didn't think so.

Put up is one option. Shut up is the other option. The third option you have chosen, mentioning irrelevant bullshit, means you can't even do one of those. This is why the reality you call "racism" still exists. You cannot disprove or falsify the notion that blacks contribute the least and burden the most. The violent crime and poverty stats alone tell the real story. You see, those are facts, not feel-good egalitarian bullshit. You want to be a scientist? Great! Look at facts. How many cutting-edge technological inventions involve blacks? Nearly none. FACT. Falsify it or eat it. Or go silent now you fucking coward. Your beliefs are feel-good and hollow and empty, that is why they do not survive even the most basic challenge. All you can do is frown upon, finger-point and name-call. Terrible substitute for facts, that is.

Re:Faster than Light? (1, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44098029)

Put up is one option. Shut up is the other option.

And a third option is to shit on the troll instead of throwing food over the bridge.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | about a year ago | (#44098089)

Aren't you the grump.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44098353)

The first smelted iron in the history of our species was found in East Africa

Put that in your pipe, you waste of oxygen, and smoke it.

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097661)

Look, it's not a religion, you were taught a set of beliefs and you refuse to question them. Why?

period.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

mooingyak (720677) | about a year ago | (#44097779)

Look, it's not a religion, you were taught a set of beliefs and you refuse to question them. Why?

period.

I'd like to think that some day we'll figure out how to make things go faster than light. But we haven't done that yet, and it would be big news if we had. Describing it that way in the summary is simply wrong.

Re:Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098023)

Look, it's not a religion, you were taught a set of beliefs and you refuse to question them. Why?

period.

I'd like to think that some day we'll figure out how to make things go faster than light. But we haven't done that yet, and it would be big news if we had. Describing it that way in the summary is simply wrong.

I'd like to think that some day we'll figure out how to make things go faster than light.

And maybe a few generations after somebody figures that out, mainstream institutional science will catch up and admit that it's possible. After first raking that person over the coals, ridiculing them, refusing to publish their papers, pontificating about how we "know" it can't be done while refusing to try and replicate the results, etc. This is how it always happens. There is a long history of it. Oddly, the history of science isn't taught as much as the theories currently in vogue. One would think that one or two examples would be enough to establish the tendency.

The bucket of ice water thrown at the face is this: science isn't really terribly different from religion. Scientists just prefer white coats over ornate robes.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098415)

Oddly, the history of science isn't taught as much as the theories currently in vogue. One would think that one or two examples would be enough to establish the tendency.

Have you ever taken a science course? In many fields, a huge portion of intro courses are as much, if not more, history than current theories.

Re:Why? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#44098039)

If things could travel faster than light, they would/do. Either we don't know how to see it happening, or it isn't/doesn't happen

Re:Why? (1)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | about a year ago | (#44098217)

Light already travels instantly, provided you sit on the massless photon and check your massless watch (time dilation). It's only when you stand back and admire it passing that 'c' comes into play. And that's not a 'speed', it's a constant like 'pi'. Saying you can go faster than light is like saying you can be rounder than 'pi'.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098371)

This summary is utter shit. From the aforementioned error

that warp even the most basic rules of physics.

Awful. The rules of physics are what they are. Rules in physics cannot be "warped" except by errant mathemathics (newton vs einstein). The rules had the same form all along.

right incentive can travel faster than light

Incentive? A carrot or a stick? Here, puss puss puss? Ridiculous.

and pass straight through barriers that should be able to hold them back

Should? Who says? The subatomic world is not a prison where things should be held back by barriers.The fact of tunneling has been known about for some time and "shoulds and shouldn'ts" have nothing to do with it. It's like saying things "want" to fall because of gravity. Just utterly cretinous.

Re:Why? (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44097791)

Actually, I (and I suspect a few fellow slashdotters who've taken physics) had to re-derive the mathematics behind the speed of light, and study the reasoning and observations leading up to why matter of finite momentum can not accelerate to the speed of light in a finite period of time. You were taught that the moon is smaller than the Earth. Why do you refuse to question that?

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097867)

Because this isn't a question about the validity of inductive reasoning or if we live in the Matrix. Our current inductive reasoning gives us overwhelming evidence that nothing has ever been observed traveling faster than light. And our theoretical frameworks, which have been incredibly predictive and precise simply do not work when you let things go faster than light. The question is not whether to have an open mind, but whether there is currently any reasonable possibility that anything can go faster than light. The same applies to Bigfoot and the Hollow Earth theories. When objectively acquired scientific data overwhelmingly points to one conclusion, you need to provide evidence if you wish to counter that. Saying that the other side is basically religiously indoctrinated is not an argument. It is an appeal to stupidity and ignorance where everything can be questioned 'because'.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year ago | (#44097905)

And yet virtually every major advancement in science over the ages has been directly contradictory of the current wisdom. Real scientists don't hold religiously to the belief that they're right, they actively try to prove themselves wrong and take great joy whenever they succeed.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097955)

And yet virtually every major advancement in science over the ages has been directly contradictory of the current wisdom. Real scientists don't hold religiously to the belief that they're right, they actively try to prove themselves wrong and take great joy whenever they succeed.

But you don't get a real degree without adhering to the "current wisdom". The problem here is one of inertia.

Science has its dogma and its heretics. That's why papers going against the norm don't get published. Now one would think that peer review means the crackpots just get publically humiliated. Naively, one would think that. Fact is, you don't get peer review unless you're fairly conventional.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097963)

Citation please. I've studied the history of science and you are speaking bullshit. I think you have quite the belief you need to challenge, and you might want to reflect on your own hypocrisy. Are you thinking, for example that Einstein disproved Newton or that quantum mechanics disproved classical physics? Neither of these occurred. Both of these theories simply amplified the previous theory and explained phenomena beyond the previous range of observations. And not surprisingly, relativity and quantum mechanics become classical physics at normal resolutions.

You've probably repeated that line about noble scientists who fought the system to get their theory through a hundred times, right? The reality is that for the last several centuries, it has just been data that has driven scientists. Even something as revolutionary and contradictory as evolutionary wasn't driven out of a desire to fight against current wisdom and have an open mind. It was simply due to finding the right data. The Big Bang? Data again. Plate tectonics? Data yet again. Solar nucleosynthesis? Data still.

Re:Why? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44098361)

About the only legitimate scientific theories that I can think of that were overthrown were some pre-tectonic theories of continental formation and, providing you loosen up there definition of science a little bit; notions like phlogiston and the ether. As you say, in almost all cases, new theories didn't so much supplant older theories as incorporate them. Even steady state cosmology played into the Big Bang theory via Einstein's cosmological constant, so while it was falsified, at least one notion based on it survived into modern cosmology.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097987)

Real scientists don't hold religiously to the belief that they're right, they actively try to prove themselves wrong and take great joy whenever they succeed.

We can stand around all day and dream about unicorn farts and magic elves, which is all fine and dandy but it's not science.

And yet virtually every major advancement in science over the ages has been directly contradictory of the current wisdom.

That's really not true. Contrary to the popular wisdom, I'll give you that much.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | about a year ago | (#44098003)

No, you pretty much made that up. Or you're defining "major advancement" such that it cannot be a major advancement unless it's contradictory to current wisdom.

Regardless, the summary is clearly wrong, because there has been no breakthrough that lets information travel faster than light. If there were, we probably wouldn't be talking about transistors, we'd be talking about that breakthrough.

And the scientific wisdom is almost always right -- that's why it's so impressive when it's wrong. You absolutely should treat any claim of FTL with the same extreme skepticism as hollow Earthism. Especially since it is relatively easy to show (eg. to those with approx. an undergraduate education in a related field, or a precocious high-schooler) that FTL implies the possibility of backward time travel, barring a few really, really conceptually unlikely and unsatisfying scenarios.

In my experience, this notion of "major scientific* advances are always people who don't accept conventional wisdom" only ever seems to come up in discussions about the speed of light, in discussions about global warming, and in discussions about Young Earth Creationism. I might be forgetting a couple. But I think the unifying feature is that people really, really *want* the truth to be different from what all the evidence points to, because that would be so awesome. Well, the awesomeness is debatable in terms of YEC, but it would be really cool if global climate change were something that'll sort itself out without us, or if the speed of light turned out to be just a trivial matter and all the stupid scientists were just dribbling their lips with their fingers instead of pressing harder on the gas pedal. It's just not what anything points to and we should demand extraordinary evidence of claims to the contrary just like we would demand extraordinary evidence of a machine that resurrects people hundreds of years dead with their memories intact. Okay, maybe that latter claim is even more unlikely to be true -- but then again the extraordinary evidence should be a bit easier to produce if it is true, so I think that balances.

*For political advances people say this all the time. It's often how they defend people like Stallman for being an asshole, or Gates or Jobs or Torvalds etc..

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year ago | (#44098121)

Reread the history of your profession. You are astoundingly wrong, though I'll admit the early examples are more impressive by dint of resulting in imprisonment, torture, and such. Even today though it's not difficult to find classical and M theorist zealots calling each other crackpots or worse.

I'm not taking issue with the FTL wrongness in the article. I'm taking issue with those who believe something to be Truth rather than theory. That is a hallmark of religion not science. Theory means "This is true as far as I can tell. If you can prove otherwise, have at it."

As for my definition, nobody ever became famous for making steady, incremental advancement in their field. Greatness comes from turning things on their ear and thinking the thoughts that your peers would never even consider.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#44098241)

nobody ever became famous for making steady, incremental advancement in their field.

Bob Widlar. Luther Burbank. George Washington Carver.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098049)

Real scientists also make false claims about what they can do and have done.

Re:Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098043)

Our current inductive reasoning gives us overwhelming evidence that nothing has ever been observed traveling faster than light.

Careful, we routinely observe entire galaxies traveling thousands of times the speed of light.

And our theoretical frameworks, which have been incredibly predictive and precise simply do not work when you let things go faster than light.

Everything works >c. The only problem is human willingness to accept implications of the result.

The question is not whether to have an open mind, but whether there is currently any reasonable possibility that anything can go faster than light.

The term "faster than light".. lacks necessary specificity. Speed limits apply only to local **propogation** thru space.

If you do not propogate or you otherwise fuck with density of local space the speed limit is not applicable to you.

That's not true in any sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098129)

"Our current inductive reasoning gives us overwhelming evidence that nothing has ever been observed traveling faster than light."
Rubbish. Galaxies mentioned below, but even quantum physics has its share of faster than light stuff.

For example a particle travels from A to B at near the speed of light, yet if we try to detect their location half way along it has a probability of being somewhere other than the line between A and B, and if you work out the speed for the new (longer) distance it's faster than light.
An electron can only exist in one orbit or the next, not half way between, so how fast does it need to travel to move? Infinity...

Really, this stuff has become religion, yet its complete garbage.

Particles and light are almost certainly not correct, more likely they're effects of the way we observe stuff. If we can only see big stuff then clumps of little stuff look like big stuff jumping around according to a probability theory.

The starlings effect, is more likely:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH-groCeKbE

All of these Quantum physics stuff will likely change, so instead of the equations representing the model, it will represent the *observed*effect* of a *different* model. But to do that we need to get past a lot of religious mumbo jumbo stuff.

Re:That's not true in any sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098245)

For fuck's sake. You are jumping between particles and waves as and then picking and choosing which aspect of each to use to further your own argument. This is not physics. I can tell you never studied quantum mechanics. Your post is no naive that it is painful.

If you ever make another comment on quantum mechanics, you need to stop treating an electron as a particle that obeys classical mechanics. It isn't. It is a wavefunction that you can collapse when you want to observe it. And that wavefunction obeys the speed of light, thus an electron obeys the speed of light. The electron doesn't instantaneously jump because the wavefunction wasn't collapsed at both places. In fact, any type of transition would be impossible if the wave function was collapsed. And if this confused you and you need to ask "where is the electron between an observed transition or tunneling?" then you have missed the entire point. Please, before you post again, please review what a QM wave function [wikipedia.org] is.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098005)

you were taught a set of beliefs and you refuse to question them. Why?

Because that would mean marginalization, ridicule, and name-calling. The typical un-scientific tactics used against those who question mainstream science.

Like Bill Hicks said, the problem many people have is, no sense of irony.

Re:Why? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44098099)

Maybe because some of us understand what quantum tunneling is and that it doesn't involve anything moving faster than the speed of light.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097773)

That is only one of the glaring problems with this post. Others include:
1) Calling quantum tunneling a 'technique',
2) Implying that quantum tunneling is separate from the behavior of a wave when it is basically just the transmission coefficient, and
3) Saying that barriers 'should' hold back electrons when the last century of physics has shown this to not be the case.

But I'm thankful that the author didn't use the classic misunderstanding of quantum mechanics that say that the physics at such small distances is completely different than physics at 'normal' sizes. We were spared that idiocy. For now.

Re:Faster than Light? (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44097785)

Tunneling is instantaneous. A tunneling electron (for example) jumps from one position to another. It does not cross the intermediate space, so you can say it actually does not go FTL, because it does not "travel" in a very real sense. Tunneling is a very well established effect. For example in Zener-Diodes with 5.6V about half of the noise produced is tunneling, and about half is thermal.

So, sorry, you are wrong. What is unclear though is whether tunneling can carry information. There is some indication that it can, but it would probably be severely distance limited (read: centimeters to meters at best) and hence not play any role in the larger scheme of things.

Re:Faster than Light? (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44098031)

What is unclear though is whether tunneling can carry information. There is some indication that it can...

No that is clear - it cannot [wikipedia.org] . If it could, and if there was any indication that it could, it would be direct evidence of the violation of causality. This is a "Big Thing" at ANY scale because all I have to do is find an intertial frame where the receipt of the information precedes its reception and then stop the information being transmitted. Having this restricted to a distance of a few cm just makes the resulting paradox less entertaining, but just as implausible, as the ones you see on Star Trek.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098109)

If it could, and if there was any indication that it could, it would be direct evidence of the violation of causality.

If island hoping works to have the apparence of exceeding c it does not automatically follow that causality must be violated.

For example you construct a wormhole and transmit a message thru it from earth to mars. It takes one second for the message to propogate between planets. In this case there are no reference frame in which effect ever preceded cause yet the signal has appeared to an outsider ignorant of the existance of the wormhole to travel FTL.

This is a "Big Thing" at ANY scale because all I have to do is find an intertial frame where the receipt of the information precedes its reception and then stop the information being transmitted.

You are making an assumption that such frames would need to exist. We don't really know if this is true at all. While instantaneous quantum effects do not themselves convey information there is a possibility they are able to exert a pressure on space that can be explioted.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098117)

Tunneling is instantaneous. A tunneling electron (for example) jumps from one position to another.

Quantum mechanics fail! You are thinking of particles when you should have been thinking of wave functions. Think of it with a wave function and you will see that there is no jump from one place to another. There is simply transmittance and reflectance. If you decide to collapse the wave function afterwards to observe it, then you might get the impression that an instantaneous jump occurred. But that is only a figment of your imagination since you won't be able to design an experiment to calculate the 'time' of a jump of electron unless you collapse its wavefunction.

Only for now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097793)

Nothing goes faster than light. period.

You seem not to have understood the difference between science and religion.

In science, we don't currently have a theory for faster than light travel ... except of course for entangled particles whose properties appear to propagate with infinite velocity. This doesn't mean that we won't have a theory that covers FTL in future. Only religion has such a priori absolutes. Science embraces anything that reality feels like manifesting to us.

There is no "period".

Re:Only for now (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44098115)

Except that no such thing has yet been demonstrated. What has been demonstrated is that by measuring the state of one entangled particle, you can correctly deduce the state of another entangled particle, regardless of the distance. Demonstrating that it is so takes nonzero time which in every experiment performed so far, takes more time than it does for the particles to transit the entire aparatus.

Re:Only for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098249)

Bell's Theorem [wikipedia.org] expresses a constraint on physical reality that is a lot stronger than you seem to think.

I know of no physicist who expects Bell's Theorem to fail as the extent of experimental apparatus grows in size. Of course it could, but then we'd be in totally undiscovered theoretical territory, not back in classical physics nor QM.

Re:Faster than Light? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097819)

It isn't going faster than light, it's just shortening the distance between two points via subatomic tricks.

This is not a completely accurate explanation, but it should suffice to explain the differences between normal conductors and nano-conductors.

Normally electricity flows through the conductor by traveling through each atom, bumping electrons along the way, traversing lower then higher energy states (electron orbits).

When we get to these nanoscale pathways, there's no room for electrons to flow normally, so they just skip along the outer shell, almost like the way those motion machine balls do - one hits on one end, momentum carried to the other side, then the last ball speeds away with the momentum transferred through the in-between balls.

Same with these pathways, electron comes in, bumps an electron off on the other side, instantly, looking like it's travelled faster than light, when in reality, it just didn't travel through the material, just along the outer edges.

It sounds like parlor tricks, but it works.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44098119)

It's not accurate at all. Why are you substituting one even more implausible untruth for another?

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#44098409)

On a TED talk, the speaker said electrons travel the speed of spreading honey in wires.
Is that related to your point and the benefits of this technique?

Re:Faster than Light? (4, Interesting)

aled (228417) | about a year ago | (#44097821)

Found this on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light#Faster_light_.28Casimir_vacuum_and_quantum_tunnelling.29 [wikipedia.org]

Faster light (Casimir vacuum and quantum tunnelling)

Raymond Y. Chiao was first to measure the quantum tunnelling time, which was found to be between 1.5 to 1.7 times the speed of light.

Einstein's equations of special relativity postulate that the speed of light in a vacuum is invariant in inertial frames. That is, it will be the same from any frame of reference moving at a constant speed. The equations do not specify any particular value for the speed of the light, which is an experimentally determined quantity for a fixed unit of length. Since 1983, the SI unit of length (the meter) has been defined using the speed of light.

The experimental determination has been made in vacuum. However, the vacuum we know is not the only possible vacuum which can exist. The vacuum has energy associated with it, unsurprisingly called the vacuum energy. This vacuum energy can perhaps be changed in certain cases.[38] When vacuum energy is lowered, light itself has been predicted to go faster than the standard value c.

Re:Faster than Light? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098105)

Your pedantry is noted; however, nobody gives a shit about the SI definition of c. When non-pedants speak of c, we refer to the ACTUAL speed of light.

Re:Faster than Light? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098223)

The reason why this is not a problem is because the electron does not actually travel from one point to the other, which would mean there were intermediary points of existence along the way. This is a quantum movement. The electron stops probably being at one place and becomes more probably in another place. It never was in any “place” to start with since placeness is not a quality of an lepton in motion.. Nevertheless, the event of the movement from one probability to the next is not really time measurable as an event, only as a measured effect.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097855)

Quantum theory and relativity aren't exactly in agreement. That is especially true when it comes to terminology that surrounds the physical interpretation of the mathematics, but it may also be true of the physical interpretations themselves.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44097885)

Can't the slashdot editors be more active with their copy? Nothing goes faster than light. period.

Not true. A shadow can move faster than light. If a wavefront is impacting a linear object, the impact point can move far faster than the propagation speed of the wave. Researchers have found numerous "action at a distance" phenomena that occur instantaneously between entangled particles. None of these phenomena can transmit information, but they are still faster than light.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098025)

Can't the slashdot editors be more active with their copy? Nothing goes faster than light. period.

Not true. A shadow can move faster than light. If a wavefront is impacting a linear object, the impact point can move far faster than the propagation speed of the wave. Researchers have found numerous "action at a distance" phenomena that occur instantaneously between entangled particles. None of these phenomena can transmit information, but they are still faster than light.

That's because they're the same particle, you're just observing it at two different places very quickly.

Re:Faster than Light? (2)

xanclic (2878575) | about a year ago | (#44098053)

A shadow can move faster than light. If a wavefront is impacting a linear object, the impact point can move far faster than the propagation speed of the wave.

These are only apparent movements. If I point a laser pointer to a wall, I may say “the dot moves” and everyone will know what I mean, but actually there's nothing moving there, it's only the location where the light from the laser pointer is hitting the wall that's changing.
Obviously I could calculate a velocity anyway and make that velocity greater than the speed of light by choosing the distance between laser pointer and wall big enough, but if it's all about whether you're able to assign a velocity, you may as well calculate the velocity of thoughts: Divide the distance of two places by the time you need to switch between them in your mind. Just look at the sun (or some more distant star to avoid eye injuries) and then at your desk and you're well above light speed.

The ability to define a velocity does not imply that something's moving.

(So, technically, those examples are “faster than light”, though I'd dispute whether something actually “goes faster than light", as the OP phrased it)

FTL, yes but no info (4, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44097901)

Can't the slashdot editors be more active with their copy? Nothing goes faster than light. period.

Correction: no information travels faster than light. It is easy to imagine a system which looks like something is moving faster than light: shine a bright enough torch on the moon. If you move the torch fast enough it will look like the spot on the Moon is moving faster than light. This is perfectly fine because there is no way to change the where the beam moves if you happen to be where the beam is pointing at a particular time i.e. no information flows between one spot and the next because everything is under the control of the torch wielder back on earth.

In QM tunnelling the transmission speed of information is always below the speed fo light and so there is no problem (if you know secondary [high] school physics this is like the difference between phase velocity and group velocity of a wave in a wave guide). However where the editors messed up is the statement:

...in circuits that warp even the most basic rules of physics.

These circuit DO NOT warp the basic rules of physics. Quantum mechanics IS a "basic rule of physics" - it is certainly counterintuitive but it is a fundamental rule of physics.

Re:Faster than Light? (5, Informative)

guttentag (313541) | about a year ago | (#44098087)

There was no editing on this. It's a submission from Nerval's Lobster [slashdot.org] , the account used to push [Business Intelligence|Cloud|Datacenter] articles (pronounced "paid content") as regular user-submitted articles. The summary links to two things:
  • Slashdot's own "Datacenter" article
  • A paywalled Wiley (publisher of technical books) Online Library article

Usually Nerval's Lobster promotes self-described tech-writer-gun-for-hire/Slashdot "editor" Nick Kolakowski's work [slashdot.org] . In this case, the author of the Slashdot content is Kevin Fogarty [slashdot.org] , who recently brought us such gems as thinly-disguised press releases for Cumulus Networks [slashdot.org] , Enterasys [slashdot.org] , and Heavy Reading [slashdot.org] , all of which use curiously-similar ambiguous stock photos from Shutterstock... My guess: the people behind the article (which we can't read) paid for it to be summarized and posted on Slashdot so they could pursue further funding by claiming their work has been "featured" (legitimized) on Slashdot.

This has been going on for some time now with Nerval's Lobster. Many people have learned not to feed the troll (don't post comments on Nerval's Lobster submissions), but if you're just joining us, welcome! And try not to feed the troll.

Re:Faster than Light? (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year ago | (#44098123)

But what if you have a mile long pole and correlate it's movements into a form of communication. As soon as you move the pole on one end it would instantaneously move on the other for instantaneous communication. trollface.jpg

Re:Faster than Light? (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year ago | (#44098233)

But what if you have a mile long pole and correlate it's movements into a form of communication. As soon as you move the pole on one end it would instantaneously move on the other for instantaneous communication.

Nope. The motion propagates to the far end at the speed of sound in the pole - much faster than sound in air, but glacial compared to light in vacuum.

Don't bother looking for an unobtanium with near-infinite stiffness and an internal speed of sound faster than light-in-vacuum. The motion at one end encodes information about what is happening at that end and that information is propagated down the pole by interactions between the pole's component particles, interactions that all are no faster than the speed of light.

Re:Faster than Light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098399)

You missed the trollface, eh?

Let me be the first to say it (1)

FlynnMP3 (33498) | about a year ago | (#44097625)

We won't see this tech for at least 20 years before it get's applied to consumer products, if at all.

OTOH, it is exciting to see the kinds of research being done that will advance computing beyond our wildest dreams.

Re:Let me be the first to say it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097659)

You know what I like about you?

You're an optimist and a damn good one.

Re:Let me be the first to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097993)

haha yeah more like we wont see this shit until the industry exploits every patent they already hold before working on this , thats whats sad about our old system , we invent faster than what the market can absorb / rich man holding the power already can let go.

Btw we still use retarded dumbass gasoline cars , when that tech was invented , human flying was in science fiction section of people mind . .

be realist ..

Re:Let me be the first to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098027)

Reality isn't about how you feel about it. The reason we use "retarded dumbass gasoline cars" is because of reality, not to piss you off. Grow up.

Re:Let me be the first to say it (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44097685)

We won't see this tech for at least 20 years before it get's applied to consumer products, if at all.

OTOH, it is exciting to see the kinds of research being done that will advance computing beyond our wildest dreams.

Who cares about consumer products. The transistor was invented in 1947 and was being used by the early 50's. Even for consumer products the first transistor radio was being sold by 1954. The IC was invented in 1958 and was being used by the early 60's.

Re:Let me be the first to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097777)

And none of which had anything to do with space.

Re:Let me be the first to say it (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44098131)

wrong. After Jack Kilby of TI invented IC, their first customer was the U.S. Air Force. After four years of working together TI and Air Force built IC based computer used in various defense projects including Minuteman missile.

Get it into your head, space/defense and integrated circuits and computers closely linked,

Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097635)

Faster than light electrons means Relativity has been proven false.

QED

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44097653)

Light travels faster than light all the time. It propagates at different rates depending on the medium, DERP.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (4, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44097697)

Phase velocity exceeds c, not group velocity. If you guys wanna prove Einstein wrong, you're gonna have to work a little harder.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098081)

It has already been proved wrong at short distances. See Feynman's lectures on physics and calculation of Feynman's diagrams where you integrate over *all* possible photon speeds, including those below and above c. At quantum levels, photons are random and their speed is random too. If you assume constant speed you'll end up with probabilities of photon-electron interactions that don't match experimental data. Game. Set. Match.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (1)

qqe0312 (1350695) | about a year ago | (#44098273)

Yep, you nailed it. That way you can have a wave propagate it's phase faster than light. The tunnel effect experiments I have seen all relate to this phase velocity. And really nothing new. A wave propagating in a gold or silver film will also see the real part of the refractive index being lower than one, and thus go faster than C. However, information can not go faster than light. The article mentioned here, is just a case of successful scientific advertising. It looks good, sounds good but really nothing new.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097843)

Looks like VortexCortex needs to look up the definition of Quantum Tunneling. BWHHAHAHAHA

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098071)

Light travels faster than light all the time. It propagates at different rates depending on the medium, DERP.

You're measuring it wrong. A medium is a layman's term for "shit that light has to bend around and/or bounce off of".

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (2)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44097753)

Wrong. Tunneling is instantaneous and it is a well-established mechanism. It has severe distance limits and the question is whether it can transfer information FTL.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097863)

OH IS THAT ALL?

Well, seeing then how certain critically relevant computer science/mathematical limits on certain fundamental characterstics of information are OPEN PROBLEMS, then it follows that it is likewise an OPEN UNRESOLVED issue whether relativity settles FTL (it doesn't).

the problems:
BQP=BPP?
P=NP?
many others that are equivalent

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44098033)

the problems:
BQP=BPP?
P=NP?

Those problems have nothing to do with speed of propagation of information. Structure of space is not implied by the Turing computation model.

Re:Sorry to those in the religion of Einsteinianis (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about a year ago | (#44098057)

Nothing you said made any sense. You took a physics problem and called it equivalent to two computational problems that are unrelated to the physical problem, related to each other, but not in any way equivalent.

"whether relativity settles FTL (it doesn't)" is word soup.

Faster than light? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#44097715)

quantum tunneling, in which electrons given the right incentive can travel faster than light,

I know stuff can go faster than light, provided no information does, but I am not sure that happens in tunneling. Does it?

Re:Faster than light? (3, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44097747)

It does. Tunneling is instantaneous. It may even be able to transfer information, but the jury is still out on that and classical quantum mechanics says it cannot. If it can, then it can transfer information without time delay, but only over short distances and with a large energy investments that almost completely goes into losses. That way, it would basically never happen in nature and it cannot go over significant distances.

Re:Faster than light? (1)

hawk (1151) | about a year ago | (#44098191)

>classical quantum mechanics says it cannot.

"Classical quantum mechanics."

OK, with that phrase, my Physics degree is officially obsolete.

Now I wonder how much time my Ph.D. in Economics & Statistics has left on it . . .

hawk, fortunate that his J.D. won't expire . . .

BS right in the first sentence (2)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44097739)

Dear OP, transistors are f****** semiconductors! The rest of the article is at best starry-eyed fantasy.

Re:BS right in the first sentence (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44097781)

They were doing a cold fusion experiment, and discovered telepathic yogurt..

Re:BS right in the first sentence (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44097799)

Dear OP, transistors are f****** semiconductors!

Strictly speaking transistors are made of semiconductor materials. Calling the devices themselves semiconductors is just an informal shorthand.

The rest of the article is at best starry-eyed fantasy.

Would you care to elaborate on why?

Re:BS right in the first sentence (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44098133)

Strictly speaking, carbon nanotubes are semiconductor materials as well.

Re:BS right in the first sentence (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year ago | (#44098291)

Strictly speaking "transistors" are any circuit element that involves a "transfer resistance", i.e. a parameter that is resistance-like and dynamically controlled by another parameter.

Junction transistors do this one way. Field effect transistors do it a completely different way (or perhaps more than one different ways). Both of those happen to be implemented with semiconductors.

This voltage-variable tunneling along gold decorations on a non-conducting nanotube is a transfer resistance and the mechanism of transfer is very akin to a field effect transistor: The tunneling path is modulated by a control signal.

(Or at least it should be. In the example given in TFA, the control signal is actually the end-to-end voltage, so we really don't have a transistor yet. More like an avalanche/tunnel diode built without semiconductors. But it seems virtually certain that a control electrode throwing an E-field into the tunneling path will modulate the amount of tunneling, so an actual transistor should fall out very shortly.)

Re:BS right in the first sentence (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44098041)

transistors have doped semiconductors, and some also might have a layer of another material

The laws of physic are unbreakable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097763)

You can't, by definition, transgress the laws of physic. If you think you transgressed such a law, your observation is wrong or what you know about the laws is wrong. Either way, you should not say you "transgressed the laws of physic". Please stop doing it.

Re:The laws of physic are unbreakable (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44098135)

BS. The real reason why the laws of physics are unbreakable is because once you break them conclusively, you rewrite them.

Re:The laws of physic are unbreakable (1)

VanessaE (970834) | about a year ago | (#44098165)

Or, as incredibly unlikely as it is, you could've actually discovered some little corner case that no one else thought to test for, and thus hasn't written a law/theory/etc. (or updated an existing one) to cover it.

I am a ninja! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44097803)

My balls make everything obsolete. You may now suck it.

Betteridge's law of hypothetical statements (2)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | about a year ago | (#44097909)

My corollary to Betteridge's law of headlines [wikipedia.org] : If a title has "could" in it, you can replace it with "probably won't".

So, is the electron truly a fundamental particle? (0)

Chris Reeve (2962081) | about a year ago | (#44098047)

Ralph Sansbury has a very simple explanation for all of this which I'm sure will get shouted down (since that seems to be what people do here for all new ideas) Sansbury suggests through a number of different lines of argumentation that the "speed of light" is really an almost-instantaneous EM signal which, by contrast, slowly propagates through the atomic nucleus into the valence shells, before it registers as a change on an electronic component. If Sansbury was right on this, then the difference between a conventional computer and the quantum computer described below would seem to be that the quantum version would run on the electron subparticles (the "subtrons") -- which it would appear from this press release can be forcibly leaked off of the electron itself by simply trapping it -- the advantage being, apparently, that -- in Sansbury's view, at least -- there is no slow propagation of the EM signal through the valence shells with the subtrons. It just becomes a virtually instantaneous transmission of subtrons. So, is it time to ask if the electron is actually a fundamental particle? It would seem that much weird physics can be reduced to classical explanations with this single idea. He also claims to have demonstrated his idea with a fairly simple experiment See http://www.bearfabrique.org/Catastrophism/Wallsan.txt [bearfabrique.org] I know y'all be hatin, but it is indeed a simple explanation.

yawn (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a year ago | (#44098267)

Horse-hockey-pucks ... QUANTUM MECHANICS .... making electric noise sexy since 1925!  Better  invest in tube based  hex-sound components for the  revival of 1960s audio.

Obligatory... (2, Funny)

Okonomiyaki (662220) | about a year ago | (#44098293)

Wow, just imagine a beowulf cluster of whatever this article is about...

There is one simple problem with this theory. (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#44098367)

You could say its NEO. But as the Double slit experiment shows everyone is capable of being Neo.
In other worlds, this quantum computer technology will only work if there are no humans to observe.

What the article is not telling is that this technology already exist and in operation. but no human is allowed to observe it.

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