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HowgravitykillsSchrdinger'scat:NatureNews&Comment

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HowgravitykillsSchrdinger'scat
Theoristsarguethatwarpedspacetimepreventsquantumsuperpositionsoflargescaleobjects.
ElizabethGibney
17June2015
IfthecatinErwinSchrdinger'sfamousthoughtexperimentbehavedaccordingtoquantumtheory,itwouldbeabletoexistin
multiplestatesatonce:bothdeadandalive.Physicists'commonexplanationforwhywedontseesuchquantumsuperpositions
incatsoranyotheraspectoftheeverydayworldisinterferencefromtheenvironment.Assoonasaquantumobjectinteracts
withastrayparticleorapassingfield,itpicksjustonestate,collapsingintoourclassical,everydayview.
Butevenifphysicistscouldcompletelyisolatealargeobjectinaquantumsuperposition,accordingtoresearchersattheUniversity
ofVienna,itwouldstillcollapseintoonestateonEarth'ssurface,atleast.Somewhereininterstellarspaceitcouldbethatthe
Print
cathasachancetopreservequantumcoherence,butonEarth,ornearanyplanet,there'slittlehopeofthat,saysIgorPikovski.
Thereason,heasserts,isgravity.
Pikovskiandhiscolleaguesidea,laidoutinapaperpublishedinNaturePhysicson15June 1,isatpresentonlyamathematical
argument.Butexperimentershopetotestwhethergravityreallydoescollapsequantumsuperpositions,saysHendrikUlbricht,an
experimentalphysicistattheUniversityofSouthampton,UK.Thisisacool,newidea,andImupfortryingtoseeitin
experiments,hesays.Assemblingthetechnologytodoso,however,maytakeaslongasadecade,hesays.
Howgravitycollapsesthecat
CinemagoerswhosawthefilmInterstellararealreadyfamiliarwiththebasicprinciplebehindthe
Viennateamswork.Einsteinstheoryofgeneralrelativitystatesthatanextremelymassiveobject
causesclocksnearittorunmoreslowlybecauseitsstronggravitationalfieldstretchesthefabric
ofspacetime(whichiswhyacharacterinthefilmagedonlyanhournearablackhole,while

Relatedstories
Quantumphysics:What
isreallyreal?

sevenyearspassedonEarth).Onasubtlerscale,amoleculeplacednearertheEarthssurface

Physicistssnatchapeep

experiencesaslightlyslowerclockthanoneplacedslightlyfurtheraway.

intoquantumparadox
Quantumtheorem

Becauseofgravityseffectonspacetime,Pikovskisteamrealisedthatvarianceinamolecules

shakesfoundations

positionwillalsoinfluenceitsinternalenergythevibrationsofparticleswithinthemolecule,
whichevolveovertime.Ifamoleculewereputinaquantumsuperpositionoftwoplaces,the

Morerelatedstories

correlationbetweenpositionandinternalenergywouldsooncausethedualityto'decohere'tothe
moleculetakingjustonepath,theysuggest.Inmostsituationsdecoherenceisduetosomethingexternalhereitsasthoughthe
internaljigglingisinteractingwiththemotionofthemoleculeitself,addsPikovski.
Apracticallimit
Noonehasyetseenthiseffectbecauseothersourcesofdecoherencesuchasmagneticfields,thermalradiationandvibrations
aretypicallymuchstrongerandcausequantumsystemstocollapselongbeforegravitybecomesanissue.Butexperimenters
arekeentotry.
MarkusArndt,anexperimentalphysicistalsoattheUniversityofVienna,alreadytestswhetherquantumsuperpositionscanbe
observedforlarge,thoughnotcatsized,objects(seeFatteningupSchrdinger'scat).Hesendslargemoleculesthroughamatter
waveinterferometer,asystemthatgiveseachmoleculeachoiceoftwodifferentpaths.Intheclassicalview,amoleculetravels
downjustonepathaquantummoleculeeffectivelypassesthroughbothroutesatonceandinterfereswithitselftocreatea
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characteristicwavelikepattern(seeimage,below).
Asimilarsetupcouldbeusedtotestforgravity'sabilitytodestroyquantum
behaviour:bycomparingaverticalinterferometer,inwhichthesuperposition
shouldsoondecohereduetothestretchingoftimeinonepathversustheother,
withahorizontalsetup,wherethesuperpositioncouldremain.Arndt,whohas
testedtheeffectformoleculesofupto810atoms2,pointsoutthatlarge
moleculeswouldbegoodfortestingthegravitationaleffectbecausetheycontain
lotsofparticlescontributingtointernalenergy.Butnotonlywouldtheresearchers
havetofurthersuppresstheexternalenvironmenttoreduceotherdecoherence
effects,theywouldalsoneedtoincreasetheseparationofthetwopathsfrom
micrometrestometres,orelseusemoleculesperhaps1milliontimesmore
massive."It'scertainlyverychallenging,"saysArndt.
IfgravityseffectdoeslimitquantumbehaviouronEarth,testsofquantumreality
forlargeobjectsmayeventuallyhavetomoveintospace,saysAngeloBassi,a
physicistattheUniversityofTriesteinItaly."Butfromadeep,fundamentalpoint
ofview,thisisnothingnew,"hesays.Agravitationalfieldismerelyanother

Ref.3

Aquantuminterferencepatternbuiltupfrom
complexmoleculesknownasphthalocyanines.

environmenttointeractwith,soinvokingitdoesnotexplainwhetherquantum
behaviourmightleadtoclassicalrealityifgravitysinfluenceweremitigatedforexample,bydoingtheexperimentingravityfree
space.
NordoestheeffectdescribedbyPikovskiandcolleaguessayanythingaboutquantumgravity:atheorythatwouldunitegravityand
quantummechanicsinasingledescription,whichmanyresearchersareworkingtowards.Itsaninterestingeffect,butitsstill
quantumphysicsappliedtoclassicalgeneralrelativity.Inthatwayitdoesntchangeourpictureoftheworld,addsBassi.
Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2015.17773

References
1. Pikovski,I.,Zych,M.,Costa,F.&Brukner,.NaturePhys.http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys3366(15June2015).
Showcontext
2. Eibenberger,S.etalPhys.Chem.Chem.Phys.1514696147002013
Showcontext

Article PubMed ChemPort

3. Juffmann,T.etalNatureNanotech7297300(2012).
Showcontext

Article ChemPort

Relatedstoriesandlinks
Fromnature.com
Quantumphysics:Whatisreallyreal?
20May2015
Physicistssnatchapeepintoquantumparadox
09October2013
Quantumtheoremshakesfoundations
17November2011
FatteningupSchrdinger'scat
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GeorgeKanev 2015061909:45PM

AboutquantummechanicsconnectionthroughtheUSMwww.kanevuniverse.comandisitflowingtowardsthegeneral
relativity?FirstofallcongratulationtoBrianaboutveryinterestingpointaboutquantummechanicsandgeneralrelativity
compatibility!Firstofallletmebeginwiththis:Nowlettalkalittleaboutthelastepisodes(thereistalkingaboutCosmos
series),wherewasexplainedthepropertiesofthelightandpropertiesoftheneutrino.ThereIhavethefollowingobjection:
Indeedthedarklinesinthespectrumanalysisofelementsareresultofjumpingoftheelectronsontheelectroniccloudfrom
lowertothehigherorbitandtherewassaidthatthereverseprocessitisntclearyet,whichiscorrectinthepointofviewof
quantummechanics,butnotaccordingtoUSMwww.kanevuniverse.comAgainquantummechanicsgivetheanswerabout
quantumactionasapreservationofthephaseinthediffractionwaveinthedifferentenergyorbitsoftheatomselectron(in
concretecasehydrogenatom),whichmeansthattheretheperiodofwavemusttochangewholenumbertimestobe
possibletheparticletobethesame.Thisexplanationdespiteitgivesthoroughquantitycoincidenceitisntessenceofthe
quantumaction.Thatiswhythequantummechanicscangiveonlyprobabilityofelectronjumpingfromhighertolowerorbit.
AccordingtoUSMpages85to98(aboutatomsenergystimulation)andpages153to174(aboutthenucleisenergy
stimulation)www.kanevuniverse.comtheessenceofthequantumactionintheatomsandnucleiactuallyisthebelated
inertialreactionoftheenergystimulation(seealsopartIandII)andthedisputeddarklinesinthespectrumofatomsinfact
arethetimeswhichisnecessarythatthefieldreachestotheclosestorbitalsystemtocommunicateaboutthehascome
changingintheequilibriumofthestimulatedatom.NowaboutwellformulatedbyBrianproblem:theprobabilitytofindout
theelectronitisntpointedtooneparticularspotbutseveralsuchspots,butwecanmeasureexperimentallythatthe
electronactuallyisinsomeconcretespot,notinseveralspotssimultaneouslywellthatistheproblemisntit?Whatis
theresolutionandwhethereitherthequantummechanicsisincorrectorthegeneralrelativityisincorrect?Theansweris
neitheronenoranother!LetreturntowardsUSMwww.kanevuniverse.compartIpages:8and9,whereisgiventhe
essentiallyexplanationoffieldcreationandthereissaidthattheintermovementbetweentheobjectscantobeevent
almostsegment(straightline).Onthefig4and5page11(USM)isgiventheessenceofelectricalchargecreationandyou
canseethatthehypotheticalelectron(cantobethemuonandotherparticleswhichusetheresonanceradiusofelectron,
seefurtherintheory),thiselectrontheremovesinsomeharmoniccurvetlinebecauseoftheinertialactionandcontraction
withthenearestorbitalsystems.Sowecanmakeaconclusion:theharmonicoscillationofsomeparticle(throughwhichit
createsitsowncentripetalfield)canbecomealmoststraightlinebecausetherethespacecontinuouslyexpandsorcontract
aroundthisline.HeremusttoremindthataccordingtoUSMintheuniversedoesntexistabsolutelyspace,thespacesare
onlythedistancesbetweentheobjectsandifthesedistancesabsent,therewouldntbeorbitalsystemsandthereforeno
fieldsnomasses,simplynothing,whichmeansthereitisntsomethingtobedescribedwhichtoshowsexistenceofabsolute
spaceitself.Nowusingtheconceptionthatactuallytheelectronscurvetharmoniclinenotexpandorcontractthespaceon
thebalancedmiddleline,followsthatwecanfindouttheelectronexactlythereonsomemeasurementspot,wherewe
presumablyquietlyacceptedthatthisspotisonourmindcreation,calledabsolutelyspace!Soifwerefusetoacceptthe
existenceofabsolutelyspacetheproblemdisappear!G.Kanev

GeorgeKanev 2015061909:44PM

Gravitycannotaffectdifferentlyupondifferentlightwaves,becauseofthenatureofgravitationaccelerationwhichhas
nothingtodowiththegeneralrelativityexplanationwhichiswrongcertainlySeethis:Firstofallwhatistheessenceofthe
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fieldaccordingtoUSM(UndividedStructureoftheMatter)www.kanevuniverse.com?OnthepartIisshownhowthe
gravitationalfieldiscreatesandsummarizingitslookslikethis(seepartIUSM):Whenthenewappearingobject(for
exampletheMoonaroundtheEarth)springsup,therethisobject(theMoon)isbirthswithtangentialvelocityofbirth(V)
andthebodyismovestangentiallyandfreelyuntilthelightrayhascommunicatedtotheattractingbody(theEarth)about
thehascomingchangingintheequilibriumbetweencentripetalandcentrifugalforces(appearanceofnewobject).Then
appearsattractingreactionfromtheEarthandtheMoonbendsitstrajectoryuntilthecentripetalaccelerationisdirectedat
thecenterofthetrajectorytheEarth.SointhebeginningofspringingupoftheMoonthevelocityandthecentripetal
accelerationareperpendiculareachother,butwhenthecentripetalaccelerationbegintorun(becausethisreactionbelated)
thetwothevelocityandaccelerationarealreadyparalleleachother.SoactuallytheequatorialplaneoftheMoonis
revolvesinto90degree.Thusiscreatescircularsymmetryintheplaneofmoonsorbitandinthesamewayiscreatesthe
sphericalsymmetrybutthereisnecessarytotakeintoaccountthethickeningandexpansionofthespace(seeUSMpartI).
AndbecauseoftheexpansionoftheUniverse(infactourgalaxyonly)themicrocosmosisthickeningandthemacro
cosmosisexpandswhichincreasesthedensityoftheatoms(nuclei)anddecreasesthedensityofthegalaxiesandbetween
galaxydistances.Sothisprocessexactlycoincideswiththedifferencesbetweenthegravitational,electricalandnuclear
forces(seepartIIUSM),itmeansthatthereexistsonlyonefield,whichappearslikeagravitationalfieldinbetweengalaxys
space,likeaelectrostaticfieldinbetweenatomsspaceandasanuclearfieldinbetweennuclearspace.Thusisexplains
thequantitydifferencebetweenthethreefield,whichshowsthatthesethreefieldsactuallyisthesameonlyfield.Sothe
belatedinteractionbetweenEarthandMoonandattractionforceofEarthcreatedtheowncentripetalaccelerationofMoon
andthebelatedinteractionbetweentheSunandEarthandattractionforceoftheSuncreatestheowncentripetal
accelerationofEarthandsoon.Buthowiscreatesthecentripetalaccelerationofgalaxies,seepartIUSM.Finallyindeed
thedistancesinthesolarsystemgraduallyandveryslowlyaboutourclockticingisincreases.G.Kanev

RodneyBrooks 2015061908:46PM

Thefirstparagraphsaysthataccordingtoquantumtheorythecatcanbeintwostates.Howevertwosentenceslaterwe
readthataquantumobjectcollapsesintojustonestatewheneverit"interactswithastrayparticleorapassingfield".I
believethetruthissomewhereinbetween,atleastaccordingtoQuantumFieldTheory.Wedon'tknowexactlywhenfield
collapseoccurs,butitsurelyhappenslongbeforethecatdiesindeed,beforeanymacroscopicchangeisevident.That
wasthepointofSchrdinger'snowfamouscatexperiment,althoughtodayitistakentheotherway.Infact,Einsteinhad
proposedasimilarthoughtexperimentinwhichabombwastriggeredbyaquantuminstability.Ashesaid,"ablendofnot
yetandalreadyexplodedsystems...cannotbearealstateofaffairs,forinrealitythereisjustnointermediarybetween
explodedandnotexploded.Inmybook"FieldsofColor"(seequantumfieldtheory.net),whichexplainsQFTtoalay
audiencewithoutmaths,Iwrotethefollowing:QFTsuppliesasimpleanswerforSchrdingerscat,andalsoforEinsteins
bomb.Thereisnoroleoftheobserver.Thebombexplodes(ornot)andthecatdies(ornot),regardlessofwhetheranyone
looks.Fieldcollapsedoesnotdependonanobserver.Thefieldsevolveaccordingtofieldequationsandthencollapse,but
neitherprocessrequiresthatsomeonebetheretoobserveit.InSchrdingershypotheticalcatexperiment,theradioactive
nucleidonotemitparticlestheyemitafieldthatslowlyspreadsthroughspace.Atsomepointintimethatcannotbe
determinedfromthetheorythisfieldcollapsesintotheGeigercounterandstartsthechainofeventsthatkillsthecat.Until
thattimethecatisalive.Afterthattimethecatisdead.Inshort,itisthepossibilityofmacroscopiceffects,notgravity,that
causesfieldcollapse,althoughthedefinitionof"macroscopic"isatthistimeuncertain..

RonaldSchmitt 2015061905:22PM

TheupcomingexperimentsatYaleUniversityusinglevitatedmacroscopicsizedsuperfluidheliumdroplets,onorderofthe
Planckmass,willhopefullyshedsomelightonthistopic.http://news.yale.edu/2015/03/17/openingwindowquantumgravity

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RonaldSchmitt 2015061905:14PM

Thestatement"Assoonasaquantumobjectinteractswithastrayparticleorapassingfield,itpicksjustonestate,
collapsingintoourclassical,everydayview."isalittlevagueinmyopinion.Ibelievetheauthoristryingtodescribe
decoherence,whichgivestheappearanceofwavefunctioncollapse,"forallpracticalpurposes"(FAPP)asRogerPenrose
callsit.Thequantumobjectdoesnotpickonestate,butevolvestoastatewheresuperpositionsareastronomicallysmall.
Moreover,decoherenceofaquantumobjectiscausedbyinteractionwiththeenvironment,i.e.therestoftheUniverse,not
byasinglepassingparticle.

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