Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quantum cats are hard to see: Researchers explain the difficulty of detecting quantum effects

Date:
December 22, 2011
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
Researchers can explain why we don't usually see the physical effects of quantum mechanics.

Are there parallel universes? And how will we know? This is one of many fascinations people hold about quantum physics. Researchers from the universities of Calgary and Waterloo and the University of Geneva in Switzerland have published a paper in Physical Review Letters explaining why we don't usually see the physical effects of quantum mechanics.

"Quantum physics works fantastically well on small scales but when it comes to larger scales, it is nearly impossible to count photons very well. We have demonstrated that this makes it hard to see these effects in our daily life," says Christoph Simon, who teaches in the physics and astronomy department and is one of the lead authors of the paper entitled: Coarse-graining makes it hard to see micro-macro entanglement.

It's well known that quantum systems are fragile. When a photon interacts with its environment, even just a tiny bit, the superposition is destroyed. Superposition is a fundamental principle of quantum physics that says that systems can exist in all their possible states simultaneously. But when measured, only the result of one of the states is given.

This effect is known as decoherence and it has been studied intensively over the last few decades. The idea of decoherence as a thought experiment was raised by Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, in his famous cat paradox: a cat in a box can be both dead and alive at the same time.

But, according to the authors of this study, it turns out that decoherence is not the only reason why quantum effects are hard to see. Seeing quantum effects requires extremely precise measurements. Simon and his team studied a concrete example for such a "cat" by using a particular quantum state involving a large number of photons.

"We show that in order to see the quantum nature of this state, one has to be able to count the number of photons in it perfectly," says Simon. "This becomes more and more difficult as the total number of photons is increased. Distinguishing one photon from two photons is within reach of current technology, but distinguishing a million photons from a million plus one is not."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. The original article was written by Leanne Yohemas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sadegh Raeisi, Pavel Sekatski, Christoph Simon. Coarse Graining Makes It Hard to See Micro-Macro Entanglement. Physical Review Letters, 2011; 107 (25) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.250401

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Quantum cats are hard to see: Researchers explain the difficulty of detecting quantum effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150305.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2011, December 22). Quantum cats are hard to see: Researchers explain the difficulty of detecting quantum effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150305.htm
University of Calgary. "Quantum cats are hard to see: Researchers explain the difficulty of detecting quantum effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150305.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Airlines Swanky New Plane

China Airlines Swanky New Plane

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — China Airlines debuted their new Boeing 777, and it's more like a swanky hotel bar than an airplane. Enjoy high-tea, a coffee bar, and a full service bar with cocktails and spirits, and lie-flat in your reclining seats. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins