MIT Scientists Observe Quantum Fluctuations On A Large Object For The First Time – And It Could Influence Our Understanding Of How The Universe Began

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MIT Scientists Observe Quantum Fluctuations On A Large Object For The First Time – And It Could Influence Our Understanding Of How The Universe Began

For the first time in human history, scientists have observed so-called 'spooky' quantum behaviour, affecting objects at a human scale. It is likely one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in scientific research.


The quantum level, which includes those things that are ultra-small, such as atoms and sub-atomic particles, does not operate to the same laws as objects do in our day-to-day world. For instance, quantum objects can pop in and out of existence, or be present in two distinct places at once.



What this new experiment has shown is that those activities at the quantum level can actually affect the behaviour of the large objects that we see in our day-to-day existence. In the case of this experiment, it was a 40kg mirror.


To carry out the ground-breaking experiment, the scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology LIGO Laboratory built a 'quantum squeezer' which allows them to manipulate the noise of quantum fluctuations so that they can be observed more clearly. They then built two huge mirrors in different parts of the United States and sent light-beams between them. If there was no gravitational wave or quantum fluctuation the light would hit the same spot on the mirrors on which they left. However, it was seen using the highly sensitive tools that the mirrors had moved. Very, very, slightly.


The scientists say this was because of quantum fluctuations in the mirrors themselves. The experimental conclusions are in line with what was predicted by theoretical quantum mechanics.


Lee McCuller, a research scientist at MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, commented on the astounding breakthrough:


"We too, every nanosecond of our existence, are being kicked around, buffeted by these quantum fluctuations. It's just that the jitter of our existence, our thermal energy, is too large for these quantum vacuum fluctuations to affect our motion measurably. With LIGO's mirrors, we've done all this work to isolate them from thermally driven motion and other forces, so that they are now still enough to be kicked around by quantum fluctuations and this spooky popcorn of the universe … This quantum fluctuation in the laser light can cause a radiation pressure that can actually kick an object. The object in our case is a 40-kilogram mirror, which is a billion times heavier than the nanoscale objects that other groups have measured this quantum effect in."


The discovery is yet to be published in a scientific paper, but when it does, it will likely be the focus of much interest and intrigue. Some scientists have previously postulated that quantum fluctuations are the source of the 'big-bang' and the beginning of the universe, as they solve the riddle of how 'something can appear from nothing'.

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Thinking Humanity: MIT Scientists Observe Quantum Fluctuations On A Large Object For The First Time – And It Could Influence Our Understanding Of How The Universe Began
MIT Scientists Observe Quantum Fluctuations On A Large Object For The First Time – And It Could Influence Our Understanding Of How The Universe Began
For the first time in human history, scientists have observed so-called 'spooky' quantum behaviour, affecting objects at a human scale. It is likely one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in scientific research. The quantum level, which includes those things that are ultra-small, such as atoms and sub-atomic particles, does not operate to the same laws as objects do in our day-to-day world. For instance, quantum objects can pop in and out of existence, or be present in two distinct places at once.
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