Scientists at TU Delft’s Kavli Institute and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter have detected a Marjorana particle for the very first time, causing “great excitement among scientists!” Scientists are excited, so that makes me excited… but what the fuck is a Marjorana fermion?
The funny name comes from Ettore Majorana, an Italian mathematician and physicist whose idea it was. Essentially, a Majorana fermion is a particle that’s its own anti-particle. Bear with me for a second here: you know how there’s matter and antimatter, and when they come together they annihilate each other and release tons of energy and you get things like warp drives? Well, a Majorana fermion works just like that, except there’s no “anti-.” Instead, when two of them come together, they just annihilate right away.
It’s possible that neutrinos are a type of Majorana fermion (we’re not quite sure), but we do now know that these things actually exist. Der Nederlanders were able to generate a pair of them using an indium antemonide nanowire, covered with a gold contact and partially covered with a superconducting niobium contact, which (in retrospect) seems like a totally obvious way to go about doing it. Like, duh.
Besides a demonstration of the cleverness of der Nederlanders, what’s the point of a Majorana fermion? There’s just one big thing, really: quantum computing. Unlike the quantum computers we’ve got right now, which are touchy little things, a quantum computer based on Majorana fermions would be “exceptionally stable and barely sensitive to external influences.” Oh, and Majorana fermions may also be a part of all that dark matter stuff that’s supposed to make up a big chunk of our universe, so they’ve got that going for them, too.
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