Schrodinger’s Tardigrade may be first life form to prove multiple universe theory

By | September 27, 2009

tardigradeOne of the classical problems in quantum mechanics concerns a man and his feline companion. The man has placed his cat in an opaque tank and is slowing pumping it full of poison. Now until the man opens the tank and looks inside, he cannot be sure whether the cat is dead or alive. That is to say, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time. Impossible but such is the nature of the problem that faced this man. The man’s name is Erwin Schrodinger and the problem is that of his Uncertainty Principle. // For nearly a century, his problem has remained a quixotic quest for physicists. has always held that matter can only exist at one state in one time. That is why particles are classified as moving with an up or down spin but nothing in between. In recent years that rule has been bent with the superposition of atoms and other nonliving things. Superposition is the term for an object that is not being observed that exists as both possibilities: up and down, dead and alive. This allows physicists to observe the matter in two different states at the same time. However, thus far it has only been done with non-living things. A life-form has never been superimposed. Now, one physicist says he may have an answer.

Oriol Romero-Isart is at the Institute for in Garching in Germany. Along with his team he is proposing a “Schrodinger’s virus” experiment that would follow the same general principles of Schrodinger’s Cat. Using an created by a laser, the virus would be trapped in a vacuum. Then, using another laser, the virus will be slowed down until it lies motionless in its lowest possible energy state.

Now that the virus is fixed, a single photon is used to put the virus into a superposition of two states, moving and non-moving. Up until the point is measured it is in both states. Only after a measurement is it found to be in one state and one alone. The team has suggested that the tobacco mosaic virus be used. The virus is rod-shaped and measures 50 nanometers wide and approximately 1 micrometer long. There is debate however, whether the virus can truly be classified as “alive.” However the scientists are confident that the treatment could be extended to tiny micro-organisms such as tardigrades who can survive in vacuum for days, making them suitable for the “Schrodinger treatment.”

However, physicists are doubtful about the experiment’s results. Martin Plenio of Imperial College in London says that there is little reason that a virus would behave any differently than a similarly-sized inanimate object. However, there are possibilities in testing large objects such as viruses and molecules. This is because says that macroscopic objects can enter however, it has never happened. Through these studies, Plenio believes that we will finally be able to bridge the divide between the quantum world and our own macroscopic world. – physorg

Tardigrades are polyextremophiles and are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal. Some can survive temperatures of -273°C, close to absolute zero [4], temperatures as high as 151 °C (303 °F), 1,000 times more radiation than other animals such as humans[5], nearly a decade without water, and even the vacuum of space.[6]wikipedia

6 thoughts on “Schrodinger’s Tardigrade may be first life form to prove multiple universe theory

  1. Cole

    I’ve always thought that that was a strange, yet funny experiment. Though the version I’ve heard is that the cat’s in there, and there’s some radioactive material in there too. There is a 50:50 chance of the material being picked up by a Geiger counter. If it does, the counter triggers a hammer to be released, which in turn breaks open a bottle filed with the poison. Hmm.

    1. Xeno Post author

      You probably already know this, but it’s actually stranger than the way you described it above. What you describe is that you just don’t know if the cat is alive until you open the box. That’s business as usual, Russian roulette with random atomic decay as the trigger.

      The Shrodinger’s thought experiment, however, shows that due to the way the experiment is set up with entangled particles, the cat in the box must be both alive and dead. In a sense there are two different universes existing at the exact same time.

      There is a nice site by Andrew Thomas about quantum decoherence that I’m enjoying tonight.

      It seems to me that we might, without knowing it, be creating the universe we are experiencing.

  2. Cole

    I saw an example which I think might be breaking the rules. You’re in a cafe and you have a choice of ordering coffee or tea, then if you want cream or not, and finally, if you want sugar or not. So theoretically, new universes already exist from that. So here’s what I’m wondering: would one’s own bias to choose one drink or the other, the way we want it, form any new universes? Because really, it should only split on exact 50:50 chances.

    1. Xeno Post author

      If you decided to flip a coin for all choices you made during that day where there were two alternatives, then yes. I think of alternate universes as holographic weaker probabilities that exist overlapping as a fuzzy cloud hanging around our solid universe.

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