Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can an oil bath solve the mysteries of the quantum world?

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
For the past eight years, two French researchers have been bouncing droplets around a vibrating oil bath and observing their unique behavior. What sounds like a high-school experiment has in fact provided the first ever evidence that the strange features of the quantum world can be reproduced on a macroscopic scale.

For the past eight years, two French researchers have been bouncing droplets around a vibrating oil bath and observing their unique behaviour. What sounds like a high-school experiment has in fact provided the first ever evidence that the strange features of the quantum world can be reproduced on a macroscopic scale.

Now, many researchers are asking if the oil-bath experiments can provide insights into quantum mechanics and more specifically why particles can behave as waves and waves can behave as particles.

In this month's issue of Physics World, Jon Cartwright takes a closer look at some of the key experiments performed by the French pair but finds that not all quantum physicists are convinced that they will lead to a deeper understanding.

The French physicist Louis de Broglie was the first to describe wave-particle duality in 1926 but the phenomenon has since been very difficult to understand because no-one has ever observed something being both a particle and a wave in the everyday world.

That was until 2005, when Yves Couder and Emmanuel Fort found that when droplets of oil were released onto the surface of a vibrating oil bath, they started to bounce up and down instead of becoming immersed in the liquid, creating a series of waves beneath them. By adjusting the amplitude of the vibrations, they could make the droplets land on the crest of the waves and bounce around the bath.

These wave-droplets -- or "walkers" as the researchers called them -- appeared to be the first evidence of wave-particle duality on a macroscopic scale. The waves could not exist without the droplets and the droplets could not move without the waves.

In the years after the initial experiments, Couder and Fort used the oil bath to perform several of the classic experiments in quantum mechanics -- including Young's double-slit experiment -- and found that the walkers exhibited many similarities to the entities used in the original experiments.

One area where the walkers' analogy with quantum mechanics fails, however, is entanglement -- the weirdest quantum phenomenon of all that describes how the physical state of two particles can be intricately linked no matter how far apart in the universe they are.

For this to happen, a wave must occupy a very high number of dimensions so particles can affect one another over large distances, faster than the speed of light. However, in a walker system the waves will always occupy just two dimensions, given by the length and width of the oil tank.

"If one thinks of [entanglement] as central to quantum theory, it cannot possibly be reproduced in the [walker] system," Tim Maudlin of New York University told Physics World.

Indeed, the magazine contacted a number of physicists and philosophers with a background in quantum foundations, and found that most were sceptical that the walker systems could shed light on the mysteries of the quantum world.

On whether Couder and Fort's work can inspire physicists to find a theory deeper than quantum mechanics, Cartwright concludes: "It may be too soon to tell, but one point does seem clear: every time they look, the researchers find more ways in which walkers exhibit supposedly quantum behaviour."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Can an oil bath solve the mysteries of the quantum world?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031203440.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2013, October 31). Can an oil bath solve the mysteries of the quantum world?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031203440.htm
Institute of Physics. "Can an oil bath solve the mysteries of the quantum world?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031203440.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — The deal will help build a massive battery factory that Tesla says will produce 500,000 lithium batteries by 2020. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) — Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Cycle World (July 30, 2014) — The Bonnier Motorcycle Group presents Smoked; a three part video series. In this episode the 2015 Ducati Diavel takes on the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Video provided by Cycle World
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:
from the past week

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