The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has expanded into a new realm with a new instrument tuned to infrared light.
"Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication," said Shelley Wright, assistant professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego who led the development of the new instrument.
Pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from greater distances. It also takes less energy to send the same amount of information using infrared signals than it would with visible light.
Scientists have searched the heavens for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search to the optical realm more than a decade ago. But instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light have only recently become available.
"We had to wait," Wright said, for technology to catch up. "I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged."
Photo © Laurie Hatch
Quantum computers will be able to find target items within large piles of data far faster than conventional computers though the speed of the search will likely depend on the structure of the data.
Intuition says that the search would be fastest in a highly connected database, but a new analysis found counterexamples of slowed search on a highly connected structure and fast search on a sparsely connected one.
Novel computational methods developed by Wei Wang, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his research group contributed to the success of a large-scale project to map chemical tags of genetic material.
These marks, collectively the epigenome, influence which genes are active in particular types of cells.
Five members of the division of physical sciences will receive awards for their work to support UC San Diego's commitment to diversity in a ceremony to be held February 24. Recipients include Brian Keating, associate professor of physics; Jane Teranes, associate director of the Environmental Systems and Marine Sciences programs; Michael Norman, professor of physics and director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center; Tamika Franklin, director of alumni relations for physical sciences; and Robert Pomeroy, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry.