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Quantum State Created In Largest Object Yet

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the hoping-each-time-that-his-next-leap-will-be-the-leap-home. dept.

Science 265

SpuriousLogic writes "A team of researchers have created a 'quantum state' in an object billions of times larger than ever before. From the article: 'Such states, in which an object is effectively in two places at once, have until now only been accomplished with single particles, atoms and molecules. In this experiment, published in the journal Nature, scientists produced a quantum state in an object billions of times larger than previous tests. The team says the result could have significant implications in quantum computing.'"

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265 comments

In Slashdotters Pants. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524762)

They are virgins and not virgins at the same time.

so how big is it? (5, Insightful)

Punto (100573) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524792)

I don't need to be told that it's "billions of times than ever before", or to compare it to the library of congress, I can understand measurements. so how big is the object? 1 nanometer? 1 kilometer? what? the article doesn't seem to say either.

Re:so how big is it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524844)

TFA says both "trillions of atoms" and "barely visible with the naked eye"

Re:so how big is it? (4, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524928)

"barely visible with the naked eye"

Sounds like they must have bought one of those "penis enlargement" pills.

Re:so how big is it? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524946)

"trillions of atoms" and "barely visible with the naked eye"

Well, since Avogadro's number [wikipedia.org] represents 12 grams of carbon-12, it isn't surprising that trillions of atoms would still be invisible.

Re:so how big is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525506)

barely-visible equals invisible now?

Re:so how big is it? (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524870)

I don't need to be told that it's "billions of times than ever before", or to compare it to the library of congress, I can understand measurements. so how big is the object? 1 nanometer? 1 kilometer? what? the article doesn't seem to say either.

It's the Library of Congress.

It's now simultaneously at its usual place and two hundred miles under the sea.

Librarians are wetting themselves at least as much as physicists.

Re:so how big is it? (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524926)

"With this experiment, we've shown that the dividing line can be pushed up all the way to about a trillion atoms."

"The "quantum resonator" can be seen with the naked eye."

Re:so how big is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524930)

Billions of times bigger than the previous biggest state, which was 6 atoms? So on the order of 6x10^9 atoms... which is 14 orders of magnitude less than avogadro's number. So that's 10^-14 moles of something... which in the case of silicon is going to weigh about 0.00000000000028 grams. So something pretty small.

Re:so how big is it? (5, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525104)

That's the problem with vague claims in an article. We don't know if the weight is billions of times bigger or if the diameter is. Therefore we don't know if we have 6x10^9 atoms or 6x10^27 atoms. It doesn't even give an order of magnitude -> epic fail of scientific journalism.

Re:so how big is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524948)

Well, lets take a look at the biggest thing they say they've been able to create in a quantum state - a molecule. The smallest molecule is diatomic Hydrogen (Hsub2) at 1 picometer. 1 billion times a picometer is 1 millimeter. The largest molecule isn't clearly defined as you could argue that a diamond is a single molecule (largest was 621 grams). So, just for brevity's sake, lets assume the object they created is at least 1 millimeter.

-The Cyberlich

Re:so how big is it? (1)

shawnap (959909) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525006)

I don't need to be told that it's "billions of times than ever before", or to compare it to the library of congress, I can understand measurements. so how big is the object? 1 nanometer? 1 kilometer? what? the article doesn't seem to say either.

If the object, or objects, were observable, which it or they are not, then they, or it, would be visible; barely.
Does that clear things up?

Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (3, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524794)

I think the subject line says it all, but I want a transporter that puts me in two places at once, then destroys the first me leaving the copied me. That would be awesome.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (5, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524836)

What about one that doesn't destroy the original you?

ooh ooh! I just came up with an awesome idea to make money!
Tell people you have a quantum teleporter that will make a copy of them on another planet, but in reality, it doesn't do anything, but they can't prove it because they can't get to the other planet.

we could make a religion out of it or something. Make loads of money. *ca ching!*

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (5, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524896)

Who modded that funny? I was being serious!
*Lrons*

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525240)

Wrong audience. You should take your proposal to a science fiction writer's convention.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525280)

Wrong audience. You should take your proposal to a science fiction writer's convention.

That was a L. Ron Hubbard reference (in case that wasn't obvious). Should have gone with the Tom Cruise angle...

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524932)

It would probably work.

And it wouldn't necessarily be bad.

We could call it the Darwin natural selector.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

AtlantaSteve (965777) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524978)

ooh ooh! I just came up with an awesome idea

Err... you just came up with the 1993 "Thomas Riker" storyline from Star Trek.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (0, Troll)

NthDegree256 (219656) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525020)

ooh ooh! I just came up with an awesome idea to make money! Tell people you have a quantum teleporter that will make a copy of them on another planet, but in reality, it doesn't do anything, but they can't prove it because they can't get to the other planet.

The preferred term is "going to heaven."

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (2, Insightful)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525044)

And then destroy the 'original' and 'send' their assets to the other planet (or your offshore account). Maybe that's Step 2? People who would actually believe Step 1 would probably believe it all the way...

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525392)

The destroying the original part might get you in trouble with the law, but you could probably get away with the "intergalactic money transfer". The fees of which would be um out of this world.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (3, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525062)

Meanwhile, a new methane planet has just been discovered, but it is covered with dead bodies.

Meanwhile, at the Canazza Teleportation company headquarters, the president was heard saying "But I didn't think it actually did anything" as he was led out of his office in handcuffs.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525134)

we could make a religion out of it or something. Make loads of money. *ca ching!*

Never heard of Scientology, huh?

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525234)

we could make a religion out of it or something. Make loads of money. *ca ching!*

L. Ron, is that you?

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525466)

I wonder which makes more money, L. Ron, or the pharmaceutical companies. My money is with the pharmaceutical companies.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525330)

I think that planet is called Second Life and it's already inhabited with earth clones.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525346)

"Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newslett..."

Ah, screw that. I want in.

How much for a cut in to the action? I'm good at woodworking, and can probably make the Quantum Duplication Cubicles for you. I also have a background in sales, and a 20+ year career in IT, so I can make the lights go blinkie and help with the marketing fluff.

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525512)

they can't prove it because they can't get to the other planet.

... if you make sure to destroy their original, they won't even have the opportunity to complain. Just make sure they pay in advance! :P

Re:Screw Quantum computing, I want a TRANSPORTER! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524850)

I think the subject line says it all, but I want a transporter that puts me in two places at once, then destroys the first me leaving the copied me. That would be awesome.

No, that would suck.
Especially if the first version is the one with the girlfriend.

two chicks at the same time (2, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525432)

What lack of vision. Just put the girlfriend in the teleporter. Then put her and the copy in the teleporter again. Everybody wins. ?

Of course when they went to look at the results... (3, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524818)

... they disappeared.

Once we get into quantum computing, we're going to have to drop the whole binary "yes"-"no" thing for "yes", "no", "maybe", "uninitialized", "42"

Re:Of course when they went to look at the results (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524830)

You left out "cowbell". That's when ten or more quibits align together in perfect harmony.

Re:Of course when they went to look at the results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525152)

You misspelled CowboyNeal.

Re:Of course when they went to look at the results (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524852)

Once we get into quantum computing, we're going to have to drop the whole binary "yes"-"no" thing for "yes", "no", "maybe", "uninitialized", "42"

Possibly.

Re:Of course when they went to look at the results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525332)

While it requires some tricks, we can ultimately get yes / no, like so: 99.99999999% yes, 0.00000001% no. If that does not suffice, you'll be able to amplify the result to the point where it could be more likely the universe suddenly collapse than that you read a no instead of a yes.

"Uninitialized" may happen, but it could probably not be detectable as a condition, you'll simply be running calculations with the wrong input / transformations... And 42 is definitely not an option in systems modeled to recognize only two states. It will be either yes or no, with a probability.

Re:Of course when they went to look at the results (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525492)

adding quantum computing wont mean that there is no more use for traditional computing. binary math will still be binary math.

First Post (0, Offtopic)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524834)

In an alternate universe this is the first post of the thread. By refreshing the page in *this* universe it's more like the 3rd.

An island of ignorance in the midst of black seas. (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524854)

We are all educated stupid! O_O *dissolves in a mass of n-dimensional tentacles, and gets eaten by a passing Mi-go*

like always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524878)

The team says the result could have significant implications in quantum computing.

could, might, may, theoretically, possibly et al.

this is all i ever hear from the quantum field. people speculating about quantum ducks and eggs and how if you tweak multiple variables at the same time there might actually be parallel dimensions. it makes me want to cry when i pick up "scientific" journals that print such conjecture and speculation and dare to call it 'science' just because they have applied various tests that use the scientific method to it.

it sort of reminds me of this quote by E.A. Blair (Otherwise known far more popularly by something else), replacing 'fascism' with 'science'. Of course, most of it doesn't apply, but the idea of the word being used in so many ways outside of its immediately practical context does.

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

Re:like always (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525024)

it makes me want to cry when i pick up "scientific" journals that print such conjecture and speculation and dare to call it 'science' just because they have applied various tests that use the scientific method to it.

I think you've missed the point of science.

Could have? (2, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524888)

They think it 'could have' significant implications?
Surely they mean it definitely has significant implications and also hasn't?

This is awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524900)

I am convinced that science is getting us closer and closer to God. Pretty soon we're going to understand how the universe works and He's going to say "you figured it out! Come up to My kingdom!" and we'll get to go to Heaven. Blessed be!

Re:This is awesome! (5, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524992)

"I am convinced that science is getting us closer and closer to God. Pretty soon we're going to understand how the universe works and He's going to say "you figured it out! Come up to My kingdom!" and we'll get to go to Heaven. Blessed be!"

More likely it'll be "OMFM! Wall hacks, BANNED!!!!!"
OMFM = Oh My Fuckin Me

Re:This is awesome! (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525190)

"I am convinced that science is getting us closer and closer to God. Pretty soon we're going to understand how the universe works and He's going to say "you figured it out! Come up to My kingdom!" and we'll get to go to Heaven. Blessed be!"

More likely it'll be "OMFM! Wall hacks, BANNED!!!!!"

That's why we need to develop a quantum aimbot first and root the universe...

Re:This is awesome! (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525304)

"Damn this free will. It's so hard to make things up to keep them occupied. Who knew they'd take their silly "mathematics" so far... but if I didn't dole out power through repeatable observable physical phenomena instead of burning bushes and inexplicable amounts of fish, I'd have to prove I exist, and thus make faith in Me, and free will itself, meaningless."

Way to go! (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524912)

"In this experiment, published in the journal Nature, scientists produced a quantum state in an object billions of times larger than previous tests."

Hmmm, if I count correctly, a cat is still many orders of magnitude heavier. I can only hope that they will make further progress in the decades to come.

The answer, Schrodingers kitten (5, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525132)

Now it can AND cannot has cheezburger at the same time!

Re:The answer, Schrodingers kitten (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525350)

We the member of PETA are going to organize a nationwide protest demanding the unconditional and immediate release of Schrodinger's Cat.

Re:The answer, Schrodingers kitten (1)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525480)

Dear PETA:

We have carefully considered (not) your proposal and have decided to unconditionally release (or not) Schroedinger's cat. Therefore you may (or may not) find this free-range cat at a position which we will disclose (or not) at a later occasion, only under the condition that we cannot disclose the momentum of said cat.

Love,
E. Schroedinger

A Bose-Einstein Condensate? (4, Interesting)

Snowtred (1334453) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524980)

From what the article looks like, all they've done is created a BEC (They don't mention that in the article, am I off?) of the largest object yet, which just means they cooled the material to milli-kelvin using some kind of trap, and the material becomes a new state of matter, a Bose Einstein Condensate.

For some reason, I expected some kind of two-slit or uncertainty principle thing with a very large object. This doesn't really seem that impressive to me, but then my quantum is a bit dated.

Re:A Bose-Einstein Condensate? (1)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525516)

I don't think that's right. The small object connected to the resonator is probably a BEC, but I don't think the whole device is. I think that's what makes this amazing...the attached device is not a BEC but displays the properties of one on a macro scale.

How do they confirm it's in a quantum state? (5, Interesting)

NthDegree256 (219656) | more than 3 years ago | (#31524988)

I have a question that I assume has a reasonable answer, just one I've never actually gotten confirmation on.

Once they've placed this object in a quantum state, how do they verify that it's "occupying two states at once?" Do they just measure it and repeat the process several times, and note that it's occasionally at 1 quanta, occasionally at 0, and from that infer that it was in a quantum state up until they measured it?

Second question, while I'm here - am I right in saying that according to the many-worlds interpretation, the universe branches when this object enters a quantum state, and we end up in one of two universes, one where the object has 1 quanta of energy and one where it has 0?

Trying to grok all this "quantum mechanics" stuff :)

Re:How do they confirm it's in a quantum state? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525334)

Actually in an object of this size you could plainly see it with the naked eye. Because the whole object would start to act like one particle. Which in practice means that you can see waves moving over it in a weird fashion, where particles annihilate and amplify each other.
I once saw a video* of it, and it looks really cool. And veery creepy at the same time, when you realize what that means. (Imagine there being two cubes of steel matter in that state. You could not only shove them together to the exact same place. You could also make them annihilate each other and vanish completely. Not violently, but like sound or light waves. I meant that really feels like WTF?)

* I am really sorry that I can’t find the video anymore. :/ It was in the news when they captured it. I read about it in the German magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft, a few years back. If someone remembers or find it, please add a link to it!

Re:How do they confirm it's in a quantum state? (1)

NthDegree256 (219656) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525426)

Really? That seems unlikely to me... You can't see an object unless it's emitting photons, which automatically means it's being interfered with and thus decohering, right?

But there are bigger things in a quantum state.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31524994)

..like a chessboard. When to people play, the pieces is possible to move in many positions, and before the move the player has considered a lot of different possible moves and outcomes.

Check mate. :)

Honestly, (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525000)

This doesn't seem to be that big of a deal.

Re:Honestly, (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525100)

Yeah, and F=ma? Big whoop! Don't even get me started on boring stuff like E=mc^2.

All of this physics stuff is boring, it will never come of anything interesting.

Re:Honestly, (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525130)

Emphasis on big. Whoosh.

Re:Honestly, (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525192)

Except it is big, so that doesn't make any sense...

Re:Honestly, (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525340)

Going by their scale bar in the paper, the resonator is roughly 30 microns by 15 microns. For scale, the diameter of a human hair is about 100 microns. So, while this discovery is a big deal, and the object is larger than other items put into a quantum state. It is still very small. Hence the statement that this isn't a big deal.

Corps at it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525046)

So now we can make bigger quantum computers first and then "innovate" them ever smaller and charge people for new equipment every couple of years?
Thank goodness! This was one of my favourite revenue models. :)

But if you look closer... (2, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525068)

It's barely visible to the naked eye, but if you look under light magnification you can read a caption:

"I can has quantum state?"

Effectively? (-1, Redundant)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525076)

Such states, in which an object is effectively in two places at once...

Pffft. Lots of things can be "effectively" in two places at once. Ever heard of a "conference call". Get back to me when this object is "actually" in two places at once.

Re:Effectively? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525390)

In a conference call, you're not effectively in two places at once at all. You're effectively communicating with people at multiple disparate locations while remaining in one location.

They just say "effectively" because a superposed state is not really the same as being in two places at once, but that's a reasonable analogy to use.

G-man says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525102)

Prepare for unforeseen consequences

Quntum Virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525276)

"Similar approaches could lead to the quantum ground state of a virus"

Quantum viruses? Sounds good to me, what could possibly go wrong?

Noien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31525300)

Just one step closer to the macro-quantum existence in Noien.

There is no simultaneity (0, Troll)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525374)

Just like energy, time is also discrete and no two things can exist in the same quantum of time.

Xzibit!! (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525526)

Yo Dawg, I heard you like quantum replication, so I put a you besides you, so you can duplicate while you duplicate!

Been done in superconductors (4, Informative)

climate_control (1381507) | more than 3 years ago | (#31525564)

Similarly macroscopic quantum states have been achieved in superconductors. So the significance of this work is that macroscopic superposition is accomplished with a mechanical system, not an electronic one. The Nature article that the BBC is referring to: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature08967.html [nature.com] The BBC removed the scale bar, which shows that the resonator is about 70 microns long, with an "active region" 40 microns long. But the resonant frequency is still up in the GHz, so they only have to cool to 0.1K, which is not so hard these days.
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