Researchers have found a way to describe the degree of quantumness of anything mathematically. The results show how to measure the quantumness of a system and describe its "most quantum states", which the team calls "Kings and Queens of Quantumism".
Large objects such as baseball balls, tools, and planets behave according to the classical laws of mechanics (Newton's laws of motion) formulated by Sir Isaac Newton . On the other hand, small ones like atoms and subatomic particles are governed by quantum mechanics , in which an object can behave both like a wave and a particle .
The boundary between the classical and quantum realms has always been of great interest. Now tackling the question of what makes one thing "more quantum" than another , physicists have for the first time found a way to describe mathematically the degree of quantumness that anything (particle, atom, molecule, or even a planet) exhibits .
The results show a way to measure the quantumness of a system and describe its "most quantum states" , which the team calls "Kings and Queens of Quantumism " . The work can add a new dimension to our understanding of the universe, as well as find application in quantum technologies such as gravitational wave detectors and ultra-sensitive measuring devices.
Heart of reality:
In the subatomic heart of reality, the strange world of quantum mechanics reigns. According to these mind-boggling rules, small subatomic particles such as electrons can mate in super positions of strange states; that is, an electron can exist in more than one state at the same time and is not fixed until their position or even momentum around an atom is observed.
Classical objects, on the other hand, follow the normal daily rules of our experience . The billiard balls strike each other, the cannonballs fly along parabolic arcs, and the planets rotate around their orbits according to the famous physical equations.
At this point, researchers have long pondered this strange situation in which some entities in the cosmos can be classically described while others are subject to probabilistic quantum laws. Luis Sanchez-Soto from the University of Madrid Complutense, one of the co-authors of the study, said that a participant at the conference asked him what the "most quantum state" a system could be in, he said.
Previous attempts to measure quantum have dealt with certain quantum systems , such as those containing particles of light, and therefore the results did not seem possible to apply to other systems containing different particles such as atoms. The paper's lead author, Aaron Goldberg, co-author Luis Sanchez-Soto, and the rest of the researchers, instead sought a general way of identifying their excess in quantum states .
"We can apply this to any quantum system - atoms, molecules, light, and even combinations of these - using the same guiding principles" Goldberg said. Finding that these quantum excesses can be of at least two different types, the team named some "Kings" and others "Queens" for their unique nature .
So what exactly does it mean for something to be "most quantum"? It can be said that this is quite mathematical and quite difficult to visualize. But physicist Pieter Kok at the University of Sheffield in England suggested a way to better understand this. Speaking to LiveScience, Kik is a simple harmonic oscillator, one of the most fundamental physical systems; that is, he exemplified a ball moving back and forth at the end of a bow.
If a quantum particle behaves like this ball-and-spring system at certain times depending on the first hit it receives, the classical is at its extreme. But if the particle were defined as quantum mechanics, it would not have a well-defined position and would be located along the path of the arc and ball.
Despite their quirks, Kok finds the results very useful and thinks they will find widespread application. "Knowing that there is a fundamental limit where a system can act as quantumly as it can do is like knowing that the speed of light exists" he also said of this work , adding that "it places constraints on things that are complex to analyze .