The University of Southampton

Scientists to test one of the fundamental laws of physics

Published: 17 January 2018
Quantum theory applies to microscopic particles such as atoms - but what prevents these principles applying to larger objects?

Experts from the University of Southampton, Queen’s University Belfast and UCL have formed a consortium with European universities and British photonics technology company M Squared to test the limits of quantum theory.

The consortium will test one of the core principles of quantum mechanics – the physical laws that allow microscopic particles, such as atoms and electrons, to be in two places at once. The groundbreaking experiment hopes to investigate what prevents these principles being applied to ‘large-scale’ objects, such as cars, trees or even people.

Professor Hendrik Ulbricht at the University of Southampton says: “The vast majority of phenomena and events that occur in our daily lives can be accounted for by the laws of physics established by Isaac Newton, but the microscopic world obeys the rules of quantum mechanics, which are so strange that they can seem counter-intuitive.

“Whether it’s possible to observe quantum behaviour in macroscopic objects is the great unanswered question in quantum physics. If it turns out we can, this could eventually open the way for us to use the amazing characteristics of quantum mechanics in a much larger set of physical systems beyond the microscopic world. We’re about to embark on a very exciting journey.”

Read the full news story here

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