How to be in two places at once

Using quantum superposition

How to be in two places at once

Ever wanted to be in two places at the same time? Soon, your dream could become a reality, as physicists have proposed what they reckon is a viable way to place a living organism into "superposition".

During an experiment at the University of Colorado two years ago, a tiny piece of aluminium was placed into a state where it existed in more than one physical location at once. Now, Zhang-Qi Yin from Tsinghua University in China and Tongcang Li at Perdue University in the United States believe that they can do the same thing with a bacteria.

Living?

In a paper posted to the arXiv preprint server, they explained how it would work. It would involve cooling the bacteria down to just a hundredth of a degree above absolute zero and then sticking it to the aluminium with natural forces. That should be enough to put it into superposition along with the metal, they believe.

They admit, however, that this would be stretching the definition of a "living" organism. Any microbe cooled down to those temperatures would be frozen solid, though it could be revived once being warmed.

What's more, they reckon that the experiment could also be used to test for defective protein DNA inside that organism, by quantum entangling the position of a microbe with the spin of an atom residing within it.

Image credit: Bobbie Johnson // CC BY-SA 2.0

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