Physicists working at the world’s largest gravitational wave station have cooled the device to near absolute zero in order to explore the so-called “quantum limit,” the point at which the rules governing subatomic particles break.
According to researchers, the purpose of this is not to study gravitational waves, but to understand why larger objects do not obey the rules of quantum mechanics. gravity -This can cause objects to decohere on a large scale, resulting in objects becoming macroscopic rules rather than quantum rules.
In a new study, researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) cooled the four mirrors in the experiment. Each mirror weighs about 90 pounds (40 kilograms), dropping from room temperature to 77 nanokelvin (minus 459.6699998614 degrees Fahrenheit). The vibrations of those atoms Quantum mechanics..
This result is a huge leap in the size of objects that can be cooled to this extent. So far, the largest completely cooled to the lowest possible energy level (or ground state) is a small glass of 150 nanometers (6×10 ^ minus 6 inches) weighing only a fraction of a gram. It is a bead.
“No one has ever observed how gravity acts on giant quantum states,” said Vivishek Sudhir, project director, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. Said in a statement.. “We have shown how to prepare a kilogram-scale object in quantum state, which finally opens the door to experimental research on how gravity affects large quantum objects.
Physics still cannot explain how gravity works on the elementary particle scale, the singularity in the center of the black hole, or gravity is much stronger than all other fundamental forces. When it comes to understanding why they are weak, physicists scratch their heads.Electromagnetism, weak and strong forces). Instead, gravity is described only by our best theory of very large objects. Einstein’s general theory of relativity.. But because this theory collapses on a small scale, scientists leave a broken picture of how the universe works.
To observe the slightest effect of gravity on large objects, all possible external noise (those that can interfere with the signal you want to detect, here random fluctuations in the molecule) must be removed from the system. there is. It means making it incredibly cold.The· temperature The amount of an object and the amount it vibrates are the same. Therefore, cooling something to absolute zero means eliminating all quantum-scale oscillating packets called phonons.
To eliminate these vibrations, the LIGO team shines a very accurate laser on the mirror to measure the vibration of the mirror and then uses an electromagnetic field to apply a force to counteract the movement of the mirror to increase the speed of the mirror. Dropped and erased most of the small vibrations throughout the mirror. In this way, we were able to reduce the average number of phonons in the system at any given time from 10 trillion to 10.8.
Having removed most of the vibrations from the four-mirror system, physicists want to examine the quantum state of the mirror to see how large objects lose their quantum properties. This is a process called decoherence.
This is not the first experiment to investigate quantum effects in the macroscopic world. In May 2021, the team was able to observe entanglement on a near-macroscale pair of drums about 10 micrometers in length. Live science previously reported.. March 2021 I also reported on live science Another attempt to dig deeper into the behavior of gravity on the quantum scale for the smallest measurements of gravity ever made.
Researchers published their findings in the journal on June 18th Science..
Originally published in Live Science.
The largest object is cooled to the “quantum limit”
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