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‘Zeno effect’? Not Zero effect. Atoms won’t move while you watch

‘Zeno effect’ verified

Ultracold lab

Graduate students Airlia Shaffer, Yogesh Patil and Harry Cheung work in the Ultracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics.

One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can’t change while you’re watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Their work opens the door to a fundamentally new method to control and manipulate the quantum states of atoms and could lead to new kinds of sensors.

The experiments were performed in the Utracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics, who has established Cornell’s first program to study the physics of materials cooled to temperatures as low as .000000001 degree above absolute zero.

The work is described in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters

Graduate students Yogesh Patil and Srivatsan Chakram created and cooled a gas of about a billion Rubidium atoms inside a vacuum chamber and suspended the mass between laser beams.

In that state the atoms arrange in an orderly lattice just as they would in a crystalline solid.

But at such low temperatures the atoms can “tunnel” from place to place in the lattice.

Temperature is a measure of a particle’s motion.

Under extreme cold velocity is almost zero, so there is a lot of flexibility in position; when you observe them, atoms are as likely to be in one place in the lattice as another.

The researchers demonstrated that they were able to suppress quantum tunneling merely by observing the atoms. (Repeated measurements is of the observing nature)

This so-called “Quantum Zeno effect,” named for a Greek philosopher, derives from a proposal in 1977 by E.C. George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra at the University of Texas, Austin, who pointed out that the weird nature of quantum measurements allows, in principle, for a quantum system to be “frozen” by repeated measurements.

Previous experiments have demonstrated the Zeno effect with the “spins” of subatomic particles. “This is the first observation of the Quantum Zeno effect by real space measurement of atom in motion,” Vengalattore said.

“Also, due to the high degree of control we’ve been able to demonstrate in our experiments, we can gradually ‘tune’ the manner in which we observe these atoms. Using this tuning, we’ve also been able to demonstrate an effect called ‘emergent classicality’ in this quantum system.”

Quantum effects fade, and atoms begin to behave as expected under classical physics.

The researchers observed the atoms under a microscope by illuminating them with a separate imaging laser. A light microscope can’t see individual atoms, but the imaging laser causes them to fluoresce, and the microscope captured the flashes of light.

When the imaging laser was off, or turned on only dimly, the atoms tunneled freely. But as the imaging beam was made brighter and measurements made more frequently, the tunneling reduced dramatically.

“This gives us an unprecedented tool to control a quantum system, perhaps even atom by atom,” said Patil, lead author of the paper. Atoms in this state are extremely sensitive to outside forces, he noted, so this work could lead to the development of new kinds of sensors.

The experiments were made possible by the group’s invention of a novel imaging technique that made it possible to observe ultracold atoms while leaving them in the same quantum state.

“It took a lot of dedication from these students and it has been amazing to see these experiments be so successful,” Vengalattore said. “We now have the unique ability to control quantum dynamics purely by observation.”

The popular press has drawn a parallel with the “weeping angels” depicted in the “Dr. Who” television series – alien creatures who look like statues and can’t move as long as you’re looking at them. There may be some sense to that.

In the quantum world, the folk wisdom really is true: “A watched pot never boils.”

The research was supported by the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under its QuASAR program and the National Science Foundation.

Recent Ph.D. graduate Chakram is now at the University of Chicago.

How astrophysicists view the universe: What is Anti-matter?

Astrophysicists love to invent new terminologies for every theory they put forward on “how the universe functions or how it was created or behaves”.  You might discover that many of these views were explained since antiquity by scholars and “philosophers”. I will give a few samples and then offer my version that might bring a consensus of the various lucubrations.

For example:

The universe is Ekpyrotic: A pair of universes collided.

The universe has White Holes that spit out matters

The universe has Dark energy: If you regularly observe an unstable object then, it will never decay (The Zeno effect in quantum mechanics).  Thus, the universe is forced back to a false vacuum.

The universe is in fact a simulated one or a Matrix universe.

The sky is a wall with an image of its stars and galaxies: The universe is a Hologram.

There are multi-universes of an infinite numbers of universes called Black Hole Babies.

There is an objective reality of space but physical possibilities do not collapse into a single occurrence.  Thus, for every decision we make a new world is born. This is labelled Many-World Interpretation.

If the universe is infinitely old then, temperature will be uniform everywhere in space.  We end up in a starless sky.  This theory is called Heat Death.

We can compose sets of constants and equations combining relativity and quantum mechanics theories to creating the Theory of Everything.

The universe can be formulated in M-Theory, an extension of String theory.

Let me contribute my own version.  Suppose there was a Big Bang and that matter and anti-matters competed to forming the universe.  They say that matter won the final battle.  Anyway, we could as well said, by convention, that anti-matter won and it would not have changed the reality.

I say, after the Big Bang (since mankind insists that the universe must be created for power sake), two universes were created on each side of the two hemispheres on the location of the Big Bang.  Our side is the universe of matter and the other side the anti-matter.

The hologram phenomenon can be interpreted as matter and anti-matter still “fighting it out” on the separation wall or region between the two universes.  The energy ignited on this wall (that is not necessary a smooth one but can be invading the territory of the two hemisphere) show images of the sky (as if we are watching a fluorescent screen).

Black Holes in our universe are centers of Baby universes.  The entrances to Black Holes spew matters and attract anti-matter.  White Holes could be the counterpart in the other universe, spewing anti-matter and retaining matters. It is probable that the antimatter universe is witnessed from our universe.

Many astrophysicists concur that the universe is expanding.  What about the theory that in this period, more Super Novas are exploding in our universe than in the antimatter universe, and thus, the matter energy released are conquering more territories in the other universe?  Would in another periods, more supernovas in the antimatter universe explode and our universe will shrink?

Since the universe is constantly active, there is no chance for the temperature of the universe to reaching steady-state, and thus, experience a “skyless sky”, no matter how old or timeless is the universe.

As for the Theory of Everything, it is a game played by fanatic rationalists who want to believe that the universe still revolves around mankind, especially man on earth.  The Theory of Everything should not affect the convinient natural laws governing our reality, but it might heat up philosophical concepts in matters of relativity, not just in the scientific fields, but expand into morality and ethics. 

In any theory, there is an exception to be resolved; once that exception is resolved, another exception pops up.  And the cycle continue until there are one too many exception to revise the entire theory.

We live in an objective reality, and the more mankind disturb nature and the universe for million of observation every day, the more the reality changes and is transformed:  Requiring natural laws to be revisited for transformations relevant to changing objective reality.




May 2021

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