Scientific discoveries this week: 11/18/13

Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada
Massive leaps in the world of quantum computation have been made, beating an unofficial world record. Researchers at Simon Fraser University maintained a quantum memory state at room temperature for 39 minutes, approximately 100 times longer than the last attempt made.
In a standard computational system, bits of information are sent through 1s and 0s. A quantum memory processes “qubits” of information which are able to exist as a one and zero at the same time. This allows for multiple calculations to be made simultaneously, exponentially increasing the power of information technology. Although 39 minutes seems like a short time, it is considered a huge step in the direction of a more permanent quantum computation system.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts, USA
The ultimate goal of fusion energy research is to hold and use the power of the stars. Many fusion bottles, like a tokomak found at MIT, can handle plasmas as much as ten times hotter than our sun. A crucial step in this process, however, is being able to keep the heat from leaking out. A sweet spot between too little and too much confinement is being sought out by many research labs. Scientists at MIT designed one such method, calling it a “shoelace antenna.” This antenna can remotely fluctuate the contained plasma with radio waves, potentially fine tuning it into that sweet spot necessary for steady state operations.

University of Turku, Finland
Recent studies of ancient dog and wolf DNA have localized the relative location of canine domestication. The DNA analysis revealed that modern dog DNA is neither related to wolves located outside Europe, nor related to modern species of wolves. This suggests that an ancient species of wolf, now extinct, is the direct ancestor of domesticated dogs. This bond is estimated back almost 32,000 years ago, much older than many have speculated. The data is subject to further tests, as many of these primitive dog species continued to interbreed with the wild wolf population, creating many DNA crosses to work through.

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