Reader’s Scigest 6-11-14

By Sadie BartholomewSupercomputer_image600x400

As Right as Rain?

The Met Office have invested £97 million in a new supercomputer in the hope that it will increase the precision and accuracy of its weather forceasting to the extent that the UK becomes the world leader in meteorology. The Cray XC40 will be able to perform calculations 13 times faster than the present machine, at 16,000 trillion every second, allowing for hourly forecast updates. It is expected to save the country £2 billion by reducing the disruptive effect of severe weather events. But we will have to wait until next September, when it becomes operational, to determine whether it is reliable enough to make it safe to leave umbrellas and coats at home when venturing out into blustery Durham.

When Worlds Collide

A research paper published this week in Physical Review X has proposed that quantum mechanics is the manifestation of collisions between parallel universes. These universes were introduced into science in 1957 with the “many worlds interpretation” of quantum theory, which postulates that observation of a physical system leads the universe to branch out into several new ones representing each of the possible probabilistic outcomes. The authors of the new paper suggest that interactions between such “parallel” worlds are the cause of the bizarre behaviour of nature that is observed experimentally. Their idea could explain why wavefunctions live in an infinite-dimensional space as well as why the universe is intrinsically non-local.

Google Search for Cancer

Google Inc. are developing a pill that will be able to detect the early stages of cancer and other diseases including heart disease, in a major step to break into the health industry with their research unit Google X. Once swallowed, the pill will release magnetic nanoparticles, attached to antibodies or proteins, that will travel through the bloodstream and identify biomarkers indicative of various conditions, for example fatty plaques or cancerous cells. The particles can then be probed using a magnetic wrist sensor. The hope is that diseases can be diagnosed before symptoms start to appear.

Photograph: Pargon on flickr

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