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Researchers propose experiment to measure the gravitational force of milli-gram objects, reaching almost into the quantum realm.

15 Mar 2016, 15:03 UTC
Researchers propose experiment to measure the gravitational force of milli-gram objects, reaching almost into the quantum realm.
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Neutrinos, gravitational waves, light deflection on the sun – the history of physics is full with phenomena once believed immeasurably small but now yesterday’s news. And on the list of impossible things turned possible, quantum gravity might be next.Quantum gravitational effects have widely been believed inaccessible by experiment because enormously high energy densities are required to make them comparably large as other quantum effects. This argument however neglects that quantum effects of gravity can also become relevant for massive objects in quantum superpositions. Once we are able to measure the gravitational pull of an object that is in a superposition of two different places, we can determine whether the gravitational field is in a superposition as well. This neat idea has two problematic aspects. First, since gravity is very weak, measuring gravitational fields of small objects is extremely difficult. And second, bringing massive objects into quantum states is hard because the states rapidly decohere due to interaction with the environment. However, technological advances on both aspects of the problem have been stunning during the last decade. In two previous posts we discussed some examples of massive quantum oscillators that can create location superpositions of objects as heavy as a nano-gram. ...

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