Can physicists really save Schrodinger’s cat?

Science


For the most famous cat in physics, the Schrodinger cat, there might be a glimmer of hope.

In a strange thought experiment, symbolizing the peculiar state of subatomic particles in quantum physics, cats shut themselves to death and lived until the box was opened, at which point the cat fell or died or glad the box left.

Never thought that this moment of truth was instantaneous and completely unpredictable. In a study published in the journal Nature on June 3, physicists at Yale could observe Schrödinger’s cats in action, predict the fate of cats, and even save them from early death.

With this new discovery, physicists are able to “stop the process and give the cat a living,” said Michelle Deborah, a physicist at Harvard and one of the study authors. [Quantum particles 18 times blow up our minds]

In physics, the Schrödinger cat is a thought experiment where the cat is trapped in a box with particles that have a 50-50 chance of collapsing. If the particle is destroyed, the cat dies; If not, the cat is alive. Until you open the box, but you don’t know what happens to cats, the cat is in a superposition of dead and living conditions, and other electrons and subatomic particles exist simultaneously in several countries (such as dual energy). Levels) until observed. When a particle is observed and arbitrarily occupies only one energy level, it is called a quantum leap. Initially, physicists considered quantum leaps to be instant and wise: Poof! And suddenly the particle is in one state or another.

However, in the 1990s, more physicists began to suspect that particles would follow a linear path when they jumped before reaching their final state. At that time, physicists did not have the technology to monitor this trajectory, said Todd Brunn, a physicist at the University of Southern California who was not involved in the study. Next is Devoret and his co-authors.

Yale’s doctors shone brightly on an atom and watched as light scattered when a quantum leap occurred. They found that quantum leaps were continuous and not separate, and that they jumped to the different discrete energy levels that belong to certain “flight” paths.

After physicists understood the specific situation approached by atoms, they could reverse the flight, using force only in the right direction with the right force, said lead author and physicist from Yale University Zlatko Minev. For the success of flight reversal, it is important to correctly identify the type of jump. “That is very uncertain,” Minev said.

Some physicists such as Brunn were not surprised by the conclusion: “It’s no different from anything anyone predicts,” Brun said about living science. – Interestingly, they did it experimentally.

This new discovery is very important for research institutions such as the Gravity-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Interferometer, where physicists observe gravitational waves, DeVoret said. In this research facility, the uncertainty of particles, also called quantum noise, is a curse of the efforts of scientists to make accurate measurements.

“As physicists want to say, even God with quantum noise cannot know what you will measure,” DeVoret said. Physicists can use this research to “quell” quantum noise and make more accurate measurements.

The particles and the fate of Schrödinger’s cat will always be somewhat unexpected in the long run, Deborah said. He and the main authors conclude that their fate can be observed and predicted when they enter.

“It’s rather like a volcanic eruption,” explained Devoret, “they are unpredictable in the long run. But in a short time you can see when someone will break.”

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