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Scientists use 'spooky action' to mail electron messages a mile

Researchers at Stanford University announced Tuesday that they had successfully leveraged the "spooky" interaction of entangled electrons to send a message between them over a span of 1.2 miles. This is by far the longest distance that scientists have managed to send entangled particles and provides the strongest evidence to date that quantum computing can have practical applications.

Quantum computers exploit the phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, what Einstein famously referred to as "spooky action over distance", wherein two particles are connected regardless of the distance between them. That is, as in this case, if two electrons are entangled, the direction of their spin will always be the same. If one electron is spinning clockwise, the other will be too. If one reverses the direction of its spin, the other will as well. Doesn't matter if they're on the opposite sides of a molecule or on opposite sides of the galaxy, the two particles and their behaviors are inextricably linked.

"Electron spin is the basic unit of a quantum computer," Stanford physicist Leo Yu said in a statement. "This work can pave the way for future quantum networks that can send highly secure data around the world." The problem is that electrons are confined to atoms. And in order to get two electrons to entangle over long distances (and allow their quantum computer networks to communicate with one another) they need photons to act as the messengers.

This is accomplished by "pairing" the photon and electron, a process called "quantum correlation". But that runs into another issue: photons love to change the direction of their spin while travelling through fiber optic lines. So while you can get the first electron and the photon to correlate pretty easily, keeping the photon on task as it travels to the second electron is way more difficult. To overcome this, the Stanford team created "time-stamps" for the photons that act as reference points for the photons, allowing them to confirm that they arrived with the same spin orientation that they left with.

Using this method, the team successfully entangled a pair of electrons over 2 kilometers of fiber optic line. Their research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

[Image Credit: L.A. Cicero]

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Stretchable square of rubber doubles as a keyboard

There's a whole branch of science that's dedicated to turning flexible surfaces into sensors that can be used as an artificial substitute for skin. These materials could then be used to give robots a sense of touch, or even to restore feeling for people with artificial prostheses. Researchers at the University of Auckland have taken the concept in a slightly different direction after building a square of soft, stretchable rubber that pulls double-duty as a keyboard. It's hoped that the technology can be used to create foldable, rollable input devices, which reminds us of Nokia's twisty-stretchy phone concept from way back when.

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By Cat DiStasio

Fuel efficiency is one rating that can really set a car apart from the pack. Although you can't yet walk into just any dealership and drive away in a vehicle that gets more than 100 miles a gallon, there are some sweet rides out there that demonstrate just how incredibly efficient a car can be. To get a better idea of what the uber-efficient car of tomorrow looks like, we've compiled some of the most efficient vehicles on the planet, all of which exceed that 100-mpg marker. In fact, most of the cars featured here leave that rating in the dust, and several break into the quadruple digits.

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Watch ESA explain how it plans to find gravitational waves

In just under a week the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its LISA Pathfinder spacecraft on a Vega rocket. Buried within the vessel are two cubes made of gold-platinum which, scientists hope, can lay the groundwork for measuring gravitational waves in space. The theories and testing procedures can be tricky to wrap your head around, but thankfully the ESA has made some explainer videos (below) to help you out.

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Lenovo's Yoga laptops hardly need an introduction at this point: The company's iconic 2-in-1s are so popular that its competitors have been copying them right and left. Last year's edition, the Yoga 3 Pro, was especially notable for how thin and light it was: just 2.6 pounds and half an inch thick, and that was with a folding touchscreen, too. The problem, we found, was that as easy as it was to hold, that compact design came with significant compromises, including lackluster performance and mediocre battery life. Enter this year's model, the new Yoga 900 ($1,199 and up). Like its predecessor, it has a 13-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 screen and a slim build, but this time it claims faster performance, longer battery life and a sturdier hinge. It is, essentially, an improvement in almost every way.

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OnePlus won't replace the 2's flawed USB Type-C cable

Google engineer Benson Leung recently tested the OnePlus 2's USB Type-C cable and said it "may cause damage to your charger, hub or PC USB port" if used on a fast-charging device. OnePlus has now admitted that it doesn't conform to the USB Type-C 1.1 spec, and has agreed to give refunds to its customers. There's one large caveat, however. Since the cable can't cause problems with the OnePlus 2 itself (it's not a fast-charging phone), the company won't give refunds or replacement cables to buyers of the handset. Instead, it will only refund customers who purchased the cable separately.

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Translogic 189: 2015 LA Auto Show

Tranlsogic host Jonathon Buckely gets all the details on BMW's 330e plug-in hybrid, Honda's latest FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car, the Elio Motors updated, three-wheel P5 concept, and Volvo's Concept 26.The LA Auto Show has become known for its green cars and concepts, and 2015 was no exception. Tranlsogic host Jonathon Buckely gets all the details on BMW's 330e plug-in hybrid straight from BMW President of North America Ludwig Willisch. Then we get up-to-date on Honda's latest FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car. We round out our tour with a stop at the Elio Motors booth for a look at their updated, three-wheel P5 concept and a chat with CEO Paul Elio. But first, we jump in a time machine at the Volvo booth to discuss Concept 26, an interpretation of how car interiors might evolve in the era of self-driving cars.

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Pepper robots are getting fashionable makeovers

Pepper, Softbank's adorable emotion-sensing robot, is rapidly becoming the victim of its own cuteness after owners began dressing it up in wacky costumes. The Wall Street Journal has found that buyers of the device got together to form an intricate craft circle, making outfits for the device that won't interfere with its sensors. Head on over to Rierie and you'll find a wide variety of dresses, t-shirts and wigs that'll turn the appliance into a cross between a surrogate child and a cat you put in suits for Halloween. Interestingly, users can also buy makeup stickers and earrings to make the androgynous robot appear more masculine or feminine than when sold. It's become enough of a phenomenon that the store accepts global orders, so if you're looking for an attractive kimono for your droid, it'll cost you 20,000 yen ($163).

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ICYMI: Genetically-Based Cancer Meds, Taste's Base and More

Today on In Case You Missed It: Scientists managed to turn taste on and off in mice by activating and silencing brain cells, putting to bed the notion that taste is determined by the tongue. University of Toronto cancer researchers used a patient's genetic material to craft a cancerous mass on a long strip of collagen, then wound it up and gave it the same radiation and chemo drugs a patient would get for that type of illness. They can then stretch the roll out to see whether the treatment killed the cancer cells. The team hopes to eventually tailor people's cancer treatments to their own genetics. And the first battle in the private company space race may have gone to Blue Origin over Space X, for landing its reusable rocket first.

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Watch this Czech pirate's YouTube video or he'll get a huge fine

The Czech Republic's first convicted software pirate has been offered an unexpected way of escaping punishment: log 200,000 video views on YouTube and Facebook or be handed a huge fine. The man in question, who is 30 years old and known only as Jakub F, was originally handed a three-year suspended sentence and asked to forfeit his PC, hard drives and DVD backups after being found guilty of sharing illegal copies of Windows and other copyrighted software on forums over the past eight years.

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