Quantcast
Connect with us

Schrödinger’s microbe: Physicists plan to put living organism in two places at once

Published

on

Physicists have drawn up plans to put a living organism in two places at once in a radical demonstration of quantum theory.

The scientists aim to suspend a common microbe in an uncertain state similar to that endured by Schrödinger’s cat, which is portrayed in the Nobel laureate’s famous thought experiment as dead and alive at the same time.

But instead of harnessing the bizarre laws of the quantum world to hold a hapless bacterium in limbo, the uncertainty will centre on the bug’s geographical whereabouts.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is cool to put an organism in two different locations at the same time,” Tongcang Li of Purdue University, Indiana, told the Guardian.

“In many fairy tales, a fairy could be at two different locations or change locations instantly. This will be similar to that. Although it will be a microbe instead of a fairy,” he added. His team is working with Zhang-Qi Yin at the Centre for Quantum Information at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The rules of quantum mechanics allow for objects to be in a “superposition” of two different states at once. The principle forms the bedrock of hopes to develop powerful quantum computers that can work on several problems simultaneously.

Erwin Schrödinger , one of the founding fathers of quantum theory, proposed his thought experiment in 1935. In it, a cat found itself in a closed box with a small radioactive source, a Geiger counter, a hammer and a small bottle of poison.

Schrodinger explained that if an atom of the radioactive source decayed, the Geiger counter would trigger a device to release the poison. In quantum mechanics, the state of the cat would then be “entangled” with the state of the radioactive material. In due course, the cat would be in a superposition of both alive and dead states.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Although it has attracted enormous interest, no quantum superposition state of an organism has been realized. So we propose a straightforward approach to put a microbe into a superposition of two spatial states, that is, the microbe will be at two different positions at the same time,” Dr Li said.

“It will be the first experiment to put an organism into a quantum superposition state,” he added. Details of the study appear on a website where scientists post papers before they are published.

The researchers plan to build on the work of others at the University of Colorado who showed in 2013 that a tiny, vibrating aluminium membrane could be placed in a superposition of states.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We propose to simply put a small microbe on top of the aluminum membrane. The microbe will also be in a superposition state when the aluminum membrane is in a superposition state. The principle is quite simple,” Dr Li said.

The researchers plan to go one step further in a second experiment that would entangle the position of the microbe with the spin of an electron inside it. “The purpose of the second experiment is to make the system useful. It can be used to detect defects of DNA and proteins in a microbe, and image the microbe with single electron spin sensitivity,” Dr Li said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Li said he hoped to conduct the experiment, but that leading scientists in the field had laboratories better equipped to take the project on, and that he hoped to collaborate with them. “If the top group in quantum electromechanics want to focus on doing this experiment, I think a microbe could be put into a superposition state in three years,” he said.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Watch Trump’s ’jaw-dropping’ interview with Axios on HBO

Published

on

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump ridiculed for his late-night ‘OPEN THE SCHOOLS’ rant: ‘Eat your Big Mac and shut up’

Published

on

President Donald Trump demanded local school boards reopen schools during a late night tweet sent after 11 p.m. on Monday.

"OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!" Trump demanded, in all capital letters with three exclamation marks.

The president was harshly criticized for his tweet, here's some of what people were saying:

Dear Stupid,

You can't even get your own son's school to open.

They have refused.

The school where your son Barron is being educated refuses to open because it's not safe.

Now sit there, eat your Big Mac, and shut up.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Florida Democrats ask their own candidate to withdraw his candidacy after cocaine arrest: report

Published

on

Democrats in Florida are asking their own candidate to end his campaign for county commission after an arrest for DUI and cocaine.

"A Collier County commission candidate's arrest in East Naples this past weekend has prompted calls from his party to drop out of the race," the Naples Daily News reported Monday. "John Jenkins, 55, was booked into the Naples Jail Center Sunday morning and faces a felony charge of possession of cocaine, according to a Collier County Sheriff's Office arrest report. He was released later that day on $5,000 bond."

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image