Quantum Mechanics Object Observed by the Human Eye

Illustration for article titled Quantum Mechanics Object Observed by the Human Eye

Remember when, just the other day, we were talking about the future of storage, and how quantum mechanics is on the pipe dream, it's totally magic list for now? Yeah. Me too. Thing is, shit just got real: Updated.


Real, and more importantly observable. Observable is important because until this week when one talked about quantum mechanics they were either spouting a lot of unproven theory about things way too tiny to be measured or they were Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge on the engineering deck of the Enterprise D.

No longer!

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. - Nature

Bwah? It reads like science fiction, to me, but apparently science guy Andrew Cleland and his team, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were able to cool a tiny 30-micrometer metal paddle to the point where it reached a quantum mechanical ground state. Or, as my limited understand calls it, the place where nature starts to get all freaky deaky.

After the cooling process was complete, Cleland and company were able to "simultaneously set the paddle moving while leaving it standing still." Again: The metal paddle was both vibrating and not vibrating at the same time, and in a way that was observable by the naked eye.


Are you freaking out yet? Because I know a few cats in dark boxes that are right now.

Updated: Obviously, quantum mechanics is not, nor will be, my area of expertise. As AreWeThereYeti explains, better than I, "It's important to realize that they didn't actually observe it in a superposition. All they said was that the paddle is large enough that it could be observed by the naked eye, but not while it is in a superposition state."


Right. So the object is observable by the human eye. Mind, slightly less blown.

Updated: Be sure to check out Justin's reply to AreWeThereYeti's comment as well. I promoted it so it should appear for everyone. Interesting, record-correcting, stuff in there. The debate continues -j.l. [Nature via Kottke]



I think I just super positioned in my pants.