Unreal Nature

April 21, 2008

Monday Morning Decoherence

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:30 am

What Happens When You Pop a Quantum Balloon?

Decoherence may ensue.

I understand decoherence. If you’ve ever participated in an online forum argument, where people’s balloons regularly get popped, you’ve seen the decoherence that follows. Apparently that decoherence is our fault — for observing the violent deflation.

After reading the article (quotes found below), I feel quite decoherent. I may (or may not) understand what they are saying, but I wish they had explained a bit more what quantum decoherence would be like. What would the particles be doing?

“… Writing in the April 17 edition of Nature, senior author Maxim Olshanii reported that when an observer attempts to measure the energies of particles coming out of a quantum balloon, the interference caused by the attempt throws the system into a final, “relaxed” state analogous to the chaotic scattering of air molecules….”

“… the measurement — which must involve interaction between observer and observed, such as light traveling between the two — disrupts the “coherent” state of the system, Olshanii said…”

“… researchers want to prevent coherent systems from falling into the chaos of thermal equilibrium….”

“… Finding such ‘unthermalizable’ states of matter and manipulating them is exactly one of those things that quantum information/computation folks like me would love to do,” Zanardi wrote. “Such states would be immune from ‘decoherence’ (loss of quantum coherence induced by the coupling with environment) that’s still the most serious, both conceptually and practically, obstacle between us and viable quantum information processing.””

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More decoherent bits and pieces from around the net this morning:

Thai theme-park’s sinister naked baby bathroom gargoyles

Chopping down trees to make books is good for the environment, provided you then line your walls with bookcases 
(I like that one. I would have bought books anyway, but now I can feel encouraged to buy even more.)

Which imaginary animals are kosher?

Top 20 Photographs in the New York Auctions – Spring 2008

And, finally, a nice quote  from photographer Larry Fink: “The pictures are taken in the spirit of finding myself in the other, or finding the other in myself. They are taken in the spirit of empathy. Emotional, physical, sensual empathy.”
(not an endorsement of Fink’s work; I just like the quote)

-Julie

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