Scientists for the first time were able to peek behind Schrödinger’s cat

American scientists for the first time were able to trace a continuous evolution in time of a quantum system during the transition from one state to another. In fact, in a new study, the researchers were able to trace the famous Schrödinger’s cat without opening the box. In quantum mechanics, it is impossible to know the cat is alive or dead (the original quantum state of a particle), which is in a closed box (to measure) without opening it (spending measure). Results of their study, the authors set out in an article in the journal Nature, which is also available in the form of a preprint website arXiv.org. Briefly its contents can be found at the University of Rochester.

Physicists have observed trajectory of transition between two quantum levels of a particular object - TransMONEE. To this end, scientists put it in the microwave cavity and irradiated pulses. In its work, the scientists obtained the explicit form of the trajectory of evolution of a quantum state through a series of consecutive weak measurements.

Such measurements are necessary in order to prevent the reduction of so-called quantum wave function of the object. This phenomenon is due to the nature of the measurement process in quantum mechanics. In the classical world, information about the object is the result of local interaction, propagating with a maximum speed equal to the speed of light. In quantum mechanics, the measurement process is considered to be non-local and receives different interpretations depending on the interpretation of the theory.

In weak measurements little impact on the system leads to its slight perturbation, which is almost indistinguishable from the original. However, to obtain reliable information about the state of the system, such measurements should be carried out sufficiently large number of times.

For example, scientists in their work although they say that they were able to determine the trajectory of the evolution of a quantum system, the graphics that they got enough to show her blurred form. Nevertheless, clearly shows the area in which the trajectory is.

Trajectory of evolution of a quantum system for four runs. The horizontal axis - the time and the vertical - observed; a and b are graphs correspond to weak measurements, c and b - strong.

31 July 2014

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