Nation roundup for October 10
Scientists share Nobel for physics
NEW YORK (AP) — A Frenchman and an American shared the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for inventing methods to peer into the bizarre quantum world of ultra-tiny particles, work that could help in creating a new generation of super-fast computers.
Serge Haroche of France and American David Wineland opened the door to new experiments in quantum physics in the 1990s by showing how to observe individual atoms and particles of light called photons while preserving their quantum properties.
Quantum physics, a field about a century old, explains a lot about nature but includes some weird-sounding behavior by individual, isolated particles. A particle resists our idea of either-or: it’s not here or there, it’s sort of both. It’s not spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise, but a bit of both. It gets a definite location or spin only when it’s measured.
Working separately, the two scientists, both 68, developed “ingenious laboratory methods” that allowed them to manage and measure and control fragile quantum states, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
Wineland traps ions — electrically charged atoms — and measures them with light, while Haroche controls and measures photons.
“Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of superfast computer based on quantum physics,” the academy said.
Skydiver cancels historic free fall
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Blame it on the wind. Again.
For the second straight day, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner aborted his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall because of the weather, postponing his quest to become the world’s first supersonic skydiver until at least Thursday.
As he sat Tuesday morning in the pressurized capsule waiting for a 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon to fill and carry him into the stratosphere, a 25 mph gust rushed across a field near the airport in Roswell, N.M.
The wind rushed so fast that it spun the still-inflating balloon as if it was a giant plastic grocery bag, raising concerns at mission control about whether it was damaged from the jostling.
The balloon is so delicate that it can only take off if winds are 2 mph or below on the ground.
“Not knowing if the winds would continue or not, we made the decision to pull the plug,” mission technical director Art Thompson said. Baumgartner’s team said he has a second balloon and intends to try again.
Thompson said the earliest the team could take another shot would be Thursday because of weather and the need for the crew — which worked all night Monday — to get some rest.
Meningitis toll now at 119 cases
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has now reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count on Tuesday.
New Jersey is the 10th state to report at least one illness. The other states involved in the outbreak are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.
Officials have tied the outbreak of rare fungal meningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. At least one contaminated vial was found at the company.
The company recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, and later recalled everything it makes.
‘Peanuts’ pals to be on big screen
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Charlie Brown and his “Peanuts” pals are coming to the big screen.
Charles Schulz’ beloved characters are starring in their own animated film scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 25, 2015. That year marks the 65th anniversary of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the first of the gang’s many TV specials.
The as-yet-untitled film will be produced by 20th Century Fox and its Blue Sky Studios animation unit, the outfit behind the “Ice Age” flicks and such cartoon hits as “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”
Schulz’ son Craig and grandson Bryan co-wrote the screenplay with Cornelius Uliano, and the three also are producing the film.
Steve Martino, co-director of “Horton Hears a Who” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” will direct the “Peanuts” film.
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