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A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving.

Andrew Cleland at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his team cooled a tiny metal paddle until it reached its quantum mechanical 'ground state' - the lowest-energy state permitted by quantum mechanics. They then used the weird rules of quantum mechanics to simultaneously set the paddle moving while leaving it standing still. The experiment shows that the principles of quantum mechanics can apply to everyday objects as well as as atomic-scale particles.

The work is simultaneously being published online today in Nature and presented today at the American Physical Society's meeting in Portland, Oregon.

In all honesty, I'm not sure we aren't being trolled by this article, especially given the following picture and caption:

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A quantum drum has become the first visible object to be put into a superposition of quantum states. A. Olsen/iStockphoto

The drum is probably some sort of metaphor for the metal paddle, but I guess the whole article isn't written from a particularly technical perspective (this is Nature, after all), so whatever.

As far as I can tell, they put the paddle into the quantum state, but you can't actually look at it in that state, because that would determine which state it's in. The fact that the paddle is large enough to be seen is just a coincidence, and proof that it can apply to the macroscopic scale.

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No, it means they got it really cold and then it forgot if it was moving or not until they poked it.
 

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the quantum world ahhhh
 

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Read the article, it's a little more clear:

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Cleland and his team took a more direct measure of quantum weirdness at the large scale. They began with a a tiny mechanical paddle, or 'quantum drum', around 30 micrometres long that vibrates when set in motion at a particular range of frequencies. Next they connected the paddle to a superconducting electrical circuit that obeyed the laws of quantum mechanics. They then cooled the system down to temperatures below one-tenth of a kelvin.

At this temperature, the paddle slipped into its quantum mechanical ground state. Using the quantum circuit, Cleland and his team verified that the paddle had no vibrational energy whatsoever. They then used the circuit to give the paddle a push and saw it wiggle at a very specific energy.

Next, the researchers put the quantum circuit into a superposition of 'push' and 'don't push', and connected it to the paddle. Through a series of careful measurements, they were able to show that the paddle was both vibrating and not vibrating simultaneously.

 

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I do understand it, but the first time I read it I thought they were saying that the drum photo was of the quantum superposition, which is clearly nonsense.
 

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Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Samuel Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator — and vanished....
 

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"I both understand and do not understand this article at the same time."

Makes sense, but horribly written and explained.

As the first comment states:

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The standard of writing in this article is very poor. A particle "chooses" one of the superposed states? A special electrical circuit that obeys the laws of quantum mechanics? Pushing on the paddle with the circuit?

Particles do not have minds, and do not choose anything; they have a probability of being in a given observable state when observed. However you want to interpret that, there is no little electron stroking its goatee and mulling over two attractive states.

All electrical circuits, and everything else, obey the laws of quantum mechanics. If there is some aspect of the circuit that exploits quantum indeterminacy, that should be mentioned in the article. How is the fact that the circuit is superconducting relevant? Superconductivity is an interesting phenomenon. After half a page of very basic exposition on superposition, which many readers could be reasonably expected to know, superconductivity is given no explanation whatsoever, nor is there any mention of why superconductivity is important in this system.

I doubt that they actually picked up the circuit and pushed on the paddle with it. Did they use the circuit to generate a magnetic field which deflected the paddle? Did they operate the circuit at the resonant frequency of the paddle?

Understandably, some technical details must be simplified in order to reach a general audience. However, by glossing over basic elements of the science, a reader without a background in physics would be left with the impression that some wizardly scientists did something magic that somehow made a drum wiggle and not wiggle at the same time. By providing a more informed description of what happens, the truly strange nature of quantum behavior would reach the readership.
.

 

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Letting aside the bad writing of the article, I have to say that I am amazed by this. Anyway the fact that the drum was visible to the naked eye is misleading as the naked eye cannot see the superposition of states.

I hope there can be soon enough a device in which I can be in class and not in class at the same time.
 

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Originally Posted by Chimeracaust View Post
Damn indeterminism, it may or may not be the root of all evil.
Fixed?
 

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Originally Posted by StormX2
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Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Samuel Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator â€" and vanished....

Hell yeah, lol.
 

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Originally Posted by MrDeodorant
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Fixed?

Possibly, I just want the universe to be deterministic, it makes so much more sense. So much for hope.
 

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Originally Posted by Chimeracaust
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Possibly, I just want the universe to be deterministic, it makes so much more sense. So much for hope.

Why does it makes more sense if it's deterministic?

I prefer a universe where I make my own path and my decisions matter. if all is fixed then no action has any value, we would be left in a universe without morals, because if I'm determinated to act in some way, how can I be held responsible for my acts?

Also, if the essential behaviour of the universe is uncertain, then even if we knew everything about it, we will still have surprises! Think about how boring would be a universe where you could predict exactly everything that could happen...
 
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