Science

Schrodinger's Cat Cloned? New 'Cat State' Pegs Particles In Two Places, Simultaneously

By Andrew Collins , May 31, 2016 05:40 AM EDT
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Physicists developed a method to complicate the Schroedinger's Cat paradox further, essentially by putting the same cat in two boxes. In the Schroedinger paradox, the proverbial cat is considered both alive and dead inside a box until it is opened.

The Paradox of the Doppelganger Cat

Physicists at Yale University figured out how to take the paradox up a notch, creating a cat that's both alive and dead and simultaneously existing in two boxes. It sounds like fringe science, but the phenomenon is possible in quantum physics.

The object in question isn't really matter (or cat), but more like a "cat-state" wherein particles simultaneously exist in two different states. The paradox of Schroedinger's Cat has stumped scientists and theorists for decades until an actual "cat state" was created in a laboratory in 2005.

To bring the concept closer to reality, the 2005 simulation showed six atoms in simultaneous "spin up" and "spin down" states, similar to a clock simultaneously revolving clockwise and counter-clockwise. The experiment has since been replicated until a new take on the concept was recently discovered.

A Tangled Twist

The Yale experiment also comes with a twist: in addition to the two "cat states" being superposed, these are also entangled, which means that the condition of one state affects the other. Albert Einstein coined this phenomenon as "spook action at a distance," one of the mysteries in quantum physics.

Gizmodo reports how the Yale discovery may be interpreted. Lead researcher Chen Wang explains in a statement:

"This cat is big and smart. It doesn't stay in one box because the quantum state is shared between the two cavities and cannot be described separately. Wang further adds, "One can also take an alternative view, where we have two small and simple Schroedinger's cats, one in each box, that are entangled."

In a Physics World report, Wang asserts the experiment is significant in quantum computation, changing the way data is stored. Currently, data is reduced to ones and zeroes, but the Yale experiment shows it's possible for one and zero to exist in the same sphere, provided ideal conditions of the system are maintained.

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