Generally, quantum mechanics applies to the tiny world of atoms and particles. The question is what it means for large-scale objects.
A team of scientists proposes an experiment that may resolve this question once and for all.
The Schrödinger’s cat exists as a wave function before it’s observed. When it’s observed, it becomes a definite object.
At the time of Schrödinger, the scientific community had reached a consensus with the “Copenhagen interpretation“. This basically says quantum mechanics can only apply to atoms and molecules, but can’t describe much larger objects.
In the past two decades or so, physicists have created quantum states in objects made of trillions of atoms—large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Although, this has not yet included spatial superposition.
How does the wave function become a “real” object?
This is what physicists call the “quantum measurement problem“.
If there is a mechanism that removes the potential for quantum superposition from large-scale objects, it would require somehow “disturbing” the wave function—and this would create heat. If such heat is found, this implies large-scale quantum superposition is impossible. If such heat is ruled out, then it’s likely nature doesn’t mind “being quantum” at any size.
The team has formulated an experiment, which could reveal whether spatial superposition is be possible for large-scale objects. They would use resonators at much higher frequencies than have been used. This would remove the issue of any heat from the fridge itself. (Phys.org)
The paper has been published published today in Optica.