Quantum uncertainty in macroscopic measurements
Purdy, Thomas P. JILA and Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
- Heisenberg microscope
- Optomechanical systems
- Continuous position measurement
- Gravitational wave detectors
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The effects of quantum mechanics should be present in objects of all size scales. However, we rarely encounter quantum superposition (such as an object existing in two places at once) or quantum uncertainty (an intrinsic spread in the location of an object like that represented by the orbitals of electrons in an atom) in objects on the scale of our everyday experience. These more exotic quantum properties are absent in systems that are strongly coupled to their environments. Quantum superpositions exist only as long as they remain unobserved. If enough information to determine the position of an object is available in the surrounding environment, then quantum superpositions collapse. Similarly, quantum position uncertainty, while always present, is easily obscured by motion induced from thermal vibrations or collisions with air molecules amongst other sources. However, recent experiments with specially designed objects, many of which are macroscopic, or visible to the unaided eye, are able to explore quantum effects on larger size scales.
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