Mar 19, 2013, 10:36 PM EDT
David Hucul and Susan Clark are physicists at Maryland. They have a unique way of picking brackets. Since I’m not a physicist — not even close — I’m not even going to try and understand what is happening here. Instead … BLOCKQUOTE!!!
They use ions of the element ytterbium, a metal that’s smack dab in the middle of the periodic table. Everyday research in the lab is dedicated to making connections between submicroscopic objects, across distances much longer than typical quantum interactions, such as a few yards instead of smaller than an atom.
When used to assist in picking basketball games, the team uses a phenomenon called superposition. They coax the ytterbium ion to act a bit like a coin. In the same way that flipping a fair coin yields a random result of heads or tails, superposition allows the physicists to prepare the ion to have a 50-50 chance of ending up in state A or state B. It’s possible that, based on the way a coin is flipped, the result isn’t always truly random. But by using quantum phenomena, in which the location or state of an object is based on probability, the result is truly random.
So if you have some ytterbium ions lying around and you want to coax them to act like a coin, you can pick brackets that way.
The more you know.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
- Former Cornell forward Shonn Miller headed to UConn for final season of eligibility 0
- Purdue center A.J. Hammons to return for senior season 0
- Five-star 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman commits to UNLV 4
- College basketball’s eight most important NBA Draft decisions 2
- Updated 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too Early Preseason Top 25 8
- 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List 10
- Duke’s Tyus Jones becomes third Blue Devil to enter the NBA Draft 11
- Duke’s Tyus Jones becomes third Blue Devil to enter the NBA Draft (11)
- 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List (10)
- Duke freshman Justise Winslow will enter 2015 NBA Draft (8)
- Updated 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too Early Preseason Top 25 (8)
- 6-foot-11 center Antonio Vrankovic commits to Duke (6)