Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Pages

One Step Closer To The Quantum Future

Oct 17, 2012

This year's Nobel Prize for physics was given to Serge Haroche of Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and to David Wineland from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Both have pioneered methods to manipulate quantum systems, that is, entities living in the world of atoms, electrons and other particles. Their discoveries not only have a deep impact on our understanding of the truly bizarre effects that happen in the world of the very small but also have a slew of future practical applications, from ultra-precise clocks to quantum computers.

Adam wrote an excellent op-ed this past Sunday for The New York Times where he dealt with the importance of these discoveries and the weirdness of the quantum world. Today, I'd like to explore the physics of one of these experiments in more detail.

The quantum world is extremely fragile. So much so that one of the greatest challenges in quantum physics is to measure without interfering.

In our reality this is easy: you see a fly, know where it is and, in principle, can measure its velocity. All you have to do is divide the distance it travelled between two points by the time of flight.

But if this fly were an electron, things get much harder. The more precise the measurement of the electron's position, the more vague the measurement of its velocity. This is because the act of measuring interferes with what is being measured.

Say you send particles of light (photons) to bump against an electron and then travel back to a detector to tell you where the electron is. The better you want to pin down the electron's position, the higher the energy of the photon needs to be. (Higher energy means smaller wavelength and hence better precision.) However, a photon with higher energy ends up pushing the electron away as it bumps into it, messing up its position measurement.

With the fly this also happens, but the photons don't have enough energy to push the fly away. That's the crucial difference between the classical world — our world — and the quantum world. The challenge, then, is to measure without interfering, or at least to interfere so little as to preserve the quantum nature of what is being observed.

Haroche managed to "imprison" photons between two mirrors (or better, a cavity) making them ricochet countless times, in effect traveling some 30 thousand miles between the mirrors before being lost. This seesaw motion of the photons between the mirrors creates what is called a standing wave, a coherent superposition of the photons, a typical quantum state. (You can create a classical standing wave by shaking a rope that is tied up at one end. By shaking it with different frequencies you can form standing-wave patterns with different numbers of crests.) To do this, Haroche's experimental set-up needed to be incredibly precise and stable: any external interference would destroy the coherence of the photons. The "mirrors" were made of superconducting material and maintained at very low temperatures.

Information about the state of the photons was obtained by firing individual atoms of the element rubidium, an amazing feat. Haroche was trying to reproduce in the lab the famous Schrödinger's Cat effect, exploring the transition from quantum to classical. Schrödinger imagined that if a cat was imprisoned in a black box with a vial that would release poison conditioned by the decay of radioactive atoms (hence a random quantum event), an external observer couldn't tell if the cat was dead or alive inside the box. In fact, before the observation, the cat should be described as a quantum superposition of two states, cat-dead and cat-alive. Only by observing the contents of the box would the observer solve the puzzle and determine the fate of the unfortunate cat.

(Judging from my cat, she would be dead of a heart attack just for being imprisoned inside the box.)

The photons imprisoned between the mirrors work in a similar way, becoming a quantum superposition of states that is slowly interfered with by the passing rubidium atoms. In a sense, the rubidium atoms chip away at the coherent photon state, robing it of its "quantumness." With this, Haroche was able to investigate, in a controlled way, the slow degradation of a quantum coherent state for the first time.

It's possible, in principle, to reverse the effect and restore the quantum coherence of the photons using collisions with atoms. This will provide an essential control mechanism as scientists and engineers attempt to design quantum computers which don't suffer memory loss. We are not there yet, but everything indicates that within a couple of decades our computers will look and feel very differently from today's machines.


You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter @mgleiser

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.