Discovered: The quantum study that upset the Higgs; computing by waving a gloveless hand; crash dummies that better represent women; how music tastes are formed.
Dark horse quantum experiment earns Nobel. The team that discovered the Higgs Boson was everyone's odds-on favorite to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. But then, from out of nowhere, they lost to David Wineland and Serge Haroche, who made one of the year's other major discoveries in the field of quantum mechanics. Wineland (working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S.) and Haroche (based at the College de France) were awarded for similar work they conducted independently, demonstrating the ability of an atom to occupy two places at the exact same time. The scientists blasted atoms with lasers and then measuring the atoms' positions, demonstrating that a "superimposition" of the atoms. "Superimposition" basically means that there's a 50 percent chance an atom is in the place you observe, and a 50 percent chance it's elsewhere. The findings confirm long-held theories posited by quantum pioneers like Niels Bohr and Erwin Schroedinger. Though the Higgs discovery was arguably a larger feat, taking decades to finalize, Wineland and Haroche's experiments may have more real-world applications. For instance, this harnessing of superimposition could help scientists develop insanely fast quantum computers. [Reuters]
Touchless commands. The Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect have already shown that touchless interfaces are no longer just a futuristic dream. Some are saying that touchless is the new touchscreen. Now, Microsoft Research has unveiled Digits, a touchless interface that straps to users' wrists, allowing them to control computer games and other software with through a sensor that detects muscle movement throughout the hand and arm. Newcastle University collaborated with Microsoft on the device, which is the first in its class that doesn't require a glove. Laying out the long-term plan for Digits, David Kim says, "Ultimately, we would like to reduce Digits to the size of a watch that can be worn all the time. We want users to be able to interact spontaneously with their electronic devices using simple gestures and not even have to reach for their devices." Check out what Digits is capable of below: [PC Mag]