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Relatively Certain

Hear the latest news about everything from quantum computers to astrophysics, all straight from scientists at the University of Maryland. Relatively Certain is produced by the Joint Quantum Institute and hosted by a rotating cast, featuring Chris Cesare, Emily Edwards and Dina Genkina. Episodes from Quantum Conversations, a prior series focused entirely on quantum physics, will remain available under the new name.

An artists's rendering of an atom with galaxies embedded inside

There’s a big unsolved mystery in physics: The cosmic balance sheet for matter in our universe just doesn’t add up. Galaxies all over space move as though they are much heavier than they appear. Scientists postulate that they are full of stuff we cannot see, stuff that they call dark matter.

Modern computers, which dwarf their forebears in speed and efficiency, still can't conquer some of the hardest computational problems. Making them even faster probably won't change that.

Computer scientists working in the field of computational complexity theory explore the ultimate limits of computers, cataloguing and classifying a universe of computational problems. For decades, they’ve been stuck on a particular nagging question, which boils down to this: What’s the relationship between solving a problem and checking your work?

Chris Cesare teams up with Emily Edwards and QuICS postdoctoral researcher Bill Fefferman to explain what this question entails and how researchers are tackling it with tools from physics.

This episode of Relatively Certain was produced and edited by Chris Cesare, with contributions from Emily Edwards, Sean Kelley and Kate Delossantos. It features music by Dave Depper, Podington Bear, Kevin MacLeod and Little Glass Men. Relatively Certain is a production of the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and you can find it on iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud.

In our own galaxy and beyond, violent collisions fling a never-ending stream of stuff at the earth, and astrophysicists are eager to learn more about the processes that produce this cosmic barrage.

This past March, NIST Fellows Joseph Reader and Charles Clark co-authored an article in Physics Today: "1932, a watershed year in nuclear physics."

Phil Schewe discusses quantized energy levels with Steve Rolston (JQI) and Wes Campbell (former JQI postdoc and current UCLA professor).

Can you see a single photon? Does it weigh anything? Emily Edwards talks to Alan Migdall, an expert on single photon technology. Part 2 of three installments on photons. 

Phil Schewe discusses how matter, such as atoms and electrons, can display wave-like properties. Steve Rolston describes early scattering experiments.

Emily Edwards and guests Steve Rolston and Alan Migdall talk about the history of the photon. Photons sometimes behave both like particles and waves. The nature of light has intrigued scientists for centuries.

Solving the mystery of blackbody radiation brings on the quantum revolution. Phil Schewe, Emily Edwards, and Steve Rolston discuss this pivotal moment for modern physics. 2006 Nobel Prize laureate John Mather discusses how his work relates to blackbody radiation.

Fifty years ago, Theodore Maiman invented the laser. Steve Rolston and two guest experts describe how the device has utterly transformed quantum information science.

Modern timekeeping, and the ongoing effort to slice time into ever-thinner pieces, now depend critically on techniques of quantum information science.

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