Schrödinger’s cat now dead and alive in two boxes at once | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Schrödinger’s cat now dead and alive in two boxes at once

Feline-mimicking microwaves offer benefits for quantum computing

2:00pm, May 26, 2016
Illustration of a cat with skeleton shadow

CAT CLUES  Schrödinger’s mythical cat is alive and dead at the same time. Scientists have wrangled microwaves into similarly bizarre quantum states, and now they are taking the experiment a step further, splitting one catlike state into two boxes.

Schrödinger’s cat can’t seem to catch a break. The unfortunate imaginary feline is famous for being alive and dead at the same time, as long as it remains hidden inside a box. Scientists have now gone one step further, splitting one living-dead cat between two boxes.

Animal lovers can relax — there are no actual cats involved. Instead, physicists used microwaves to mimic the cat’s weird quantum behavior. The new advance, reported May 26 in Science, brings scientists a step closer to building quantum computers out of such systems.

Schrödinger’s cat is the hapless participant in a hypothetical experiment dreamt up by physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. He imagined a cat in a closed box with a lethal poison that will be released if a sample of radioactive material decays. After any given amount of time passes, quantum math can provide only the odds that the material has decayed and released the poison. So from the quantum perspective,

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content