Monday, October 04, 2010

#OPTICS "NIST Crafts 'Schrodinger's Cat' from Light"

NIST research associate Thomas Gerrits at the laser table used to create "quantum cats" made of light.
 Schrodinger's Cat is a thought experiment in which the feline was balanced in a paradoxical quantum state—a superposition of being both dead and alive. Now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claims to have created a cat made from photons that realizes Schrodinger's long predicted paradox. Look for novel quantum states to play a role in the emerging field of quantum computing over the rest of the decade. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

These colorized plots of electric field values indicate how closely the NIST "quantum cats" (left) compare with theoretical predictions for a cat state (right). The purple spots and alternating blue contrast regions in the center of the images indicate the light is in the appropriate quantum state.

Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger constructed his "cat" experiment as a "reductio ad absurdum" argument against one interpretation of quantum mechanics. Einstein had recently described quantum entanglement in an article suggesting that superposition of opposite states in atomic quanta could also become macroscopic. To illustrate the absurdity of that notion, Schrodinger constructed the situation where a cat could be both alive and dead simultaneously.
Full Text: