Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Quantum Effects at Mega-Scale Possible?

An article of the IKBFU Director of Institute of Physics, Mathematics and Informational Technology, Artyom Yurov and the Institute's Associate Professor, Valerian Yurov was recently published in European Physical Journal. The scientists have released their calculations, according to which the Universe may have quantum properties.

Artyom Yurov explained: "To begin with, let's remember what quantum physics is. Perhaps this is the most amazing phenomenon known to people. When scientists started studying atoms for the first time, they noticed that everything works "upside down" in the microcosm. For example, according to quantum theory, an electron may present in several places simultaneously.

Credit: Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Try to imagine your cat simultaneously lying on the sofa and eating from its bowl that is in the other corner of the room. The cat is not either here or there, but in both places simultaneously. But the cat is there only BEFORE you look at it. The moment you start staring at it, it changes the position to EITHER the bowl OR the sofa. You may ask, of course, that if the cat acts so weird only when not observed by us, so how do we know that it actually acts this way? The answer is simple: math! If we are to try and gather statistical information about us looking at the cat (needed to estimate the number of cases when the cat was on the sofa and when - near the bowl), we won't have any information. This proves to be impossible if we consider the cat being EITHER near the bowl OR on the sofa. Well, it doesn't work like that with cats, but works fine for electrons.

When we observe this particle, it really appears in one place and we can record that, but when we do not observe it, it must be in several places at once. For example, this is what they mean in chemistry classes when they talk about electron clouds. No wonder poor children never understand this. They just memorize ... "

Decoherence Effect

Yes, the cat is not some electron, but why? Cats consist of elementary particles, like electrons, protons, and neutrons. All the particles act the same when measured on the quantum level. So why a cat can't be in two places simultaneously?

And the other question is: what is so magical about our ability to "observe"? Because when we don't "observe", the object is being "smeared" all over the universe, but the moment we look at it - it is gathered in one place! Well, physicists don't say "gathered", they say "wave function collapsed", but those smart words actually mean "gathered" in one place as a result of observation! How are we able to do that?

Credit: Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

"Firstly, the answer to these complex questions appeared at the end of the last century, when such a phenomenon as decoherence was discovered. It turns out that indeed, any object is located in several places at once, in very many places. It seems to be spread throughout the universe. But if the object comes into interaction with the environment, even collides with one atom of a photon, he immediately "collapses". So there is no mystical abilities to cause quantum collapse by observation - this is due to interaction with the environment, and we are simply part of this environment.

Secondly, there is no absolute collapse as such. The collapse happens in the following way: if before interacting with the environment the object was "smeared" over two places, (we use "two places" to simplify, in reality it might be smeared over hundreds of thousands of places) but in fact, the object presents 99.9999% (and many, many nines after) of the time in one place, and a small remaining part of time in the second. And we observe it as being in one and only place! Everything happens in no time and the bigger an object is, the faster the "collapse". We cannot realize it or somehow register, as such devices simply do not exist. And they cannot be created".

According to Artyom Yurov, a long time ago his friend and co-author from Madrid, professor Pedro Gonzalez Diaz (unfortunately, long deceased) has presented an idea of the Universe having quantum properties.

Prof. Yurov said: "Back in the days I was skeptical about the idea. Because it is known that the bigger an object is the faster it collapses. Even a bacteria collapses extremely fast, and here we are talking about the Universe. But here Pedro asked me: "What the Universe interacts with?" and I answered nothing. There is nothing but the Universe and there is nothing it can interact with. Which, theoretically allows as to think of it as of a quantum object".

A human being and the facsimiles.

However, the impetus for writing a scientific article about the quantum nature of the Universe was not so much the idea of Pedro Gonzalez Diaz as the one that came out in 2007 scientific publication by Hall, Deckert, and Wiseman, who described those quantum miracles in the language of classical mechanics, adding some "quantum forces" in it.

That is, each location of the object is described as a separate "world", but it is believed that these "worlds" act on each other with real "forces". I must say that the idea of "many worlds" has existed for a long time and belongs to Hugh Everett. The idea of describing quantum effects by introducing additional forces also exists for a long time and belongs to David Bohm, but Hall, Deckert, and Wiseman were able to combine these ideas and build a meaningful mathematical model.

"And when Valerian and I saw this work in 2007," says Artyom Yurov, "it seemed to us that the mathematical formalism used in it allows us to look very differently at what Pedro said at the time. The essence of our work is that we took the equation that cosmologists use to describe the Friedmann-Einstein Universe, added "quantum forces" according to the HDV scheme, and investigated the solutions obtained. We managed to get some amazing results, in particular, it is possible that some puzzles of cosmology can receive unexpected coverage from this side. But the most important thing is that such a model is testable. "

It is too early to talk about what such a formulation of the question may lead to. The theory must also be confirmed by experiments (i.e., observations). But now it's obvious that scientists have come close to what can fundamentally change our understanding of the universe.

Contacts and sources:
Sergey Bulanov
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Scientists Find Evidence of Missing Neutron Star

Astronomers uncover the relic at the heart of Supernova 1987A that has been hidden for over 30 years

The leftovers from a spectacular supernova that revolutionised our understanding of how stars end their lives have finally been spotted by astronomers at
Cardiff University.
The scientists claim to have found evidence of the location of a neutron star that was left behind when a massive star ended its life in a gigantic explosion, leading to a famous supernova dubbed Supernova 1987A.

For more than 30 years astronomers have been unable to locate the neutron star - the collapsed leftover core of the giant star - as it has been concealed by a thick cloud of cosmic dust.

A close-up view of different components in the SN 1987A system: carbon monoxide molecular gas is shown in orange, hot hydrogen gas is shown in purple, and the dust which surrounds the neutron star is shown in cyan.
Credit: Cardiff University

Using extremely sharp and sensitive images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, the team have found a particular patch of the dust cloud that is brighter than its surroundings, and which matches the suspected location of the neutron star.

The findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Lead author of the study Dr Phil Cigan, from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "For the very first time we can tell that there is a neutron star inside this cloud within the supernova remnant. Its light has been veiled by a very thick cloud of dust, blocking the direct light from the neutron star at many wavelengths like fog masking a spotlight."

Dr Mikako Matsuura, another leading member of the study, added: "Although the light from the neutron star is absorbed by the dust cloud that surrounds it, this in turn makes the cloud shine in sub-millimetre light, which we can now see with the extremely sensitive ALMA telescope."

Supernova 1987A was first spotted by astronomers on Feb 23, 1987, when it blazed in the night sky with the power of 100 million suns, and continuing to shine brightly for several months.

The supernova was discovered in a neighbouring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, only 160,000 light years away.

It was the nearest supernova explosion observed in over 400 years and, since its discovery, has continued to fascinate astronomers who have been presented with the perfect opportunity to study the phases before, during, and after the death of a star.

The supernova explosion that took place at the end of this star's life resulted in huge amounts of gas with a temperature of over a million degrees, but as the gas began to cool down quickly below zero degrees centigrade, some of the gas transformed into a solid, i.e. dust.

Artistic rendering of a neutron star enveloped by a shroud of dust and gas.
Credit: Cardiff University 

The presence of this thick cloud of dust has long been the main explanation as to why the missing neutron star has not been observed, but many astronomers were sceptical about this and began to question whether their understanding of a star's life was correct.

"Our new findings will now enable astronomers to better understand how massive stars end their lives, leaving behind these extremely dense neutron stars," continued Dr Matsuura.

"We are confident that this neutron star exists behind the cloud and that we know its precise location. Perhaps when the dust cloud begins to clear up in the future, astronomers will be able to directly see the neutron star for the very first time."

Contacts and sources:
Michael Bishop
Cardiff University