Physicists claim that they have quantum entangled a tardigrade with a qubit. But do they have? – To world

A team of physicists claims to have entangled a superconducting qubit and a tardigrade, shifting the freezing, tiny and well-controlled world of quanta into the “hot and wet” systems of life.

The results described in this preprint paper, however, aren’t quite as cut and dried, and many quantum researchers argue that the poor tardigrade wasn’t meaningfully entangled.

“I don’t know how either [serious] the authors were about it – it could be an ironic piece “, writes Rice University physics professor Douglas Natelson.

“Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the authors did not interlock a tardigrade with a qubit in the meaningful sense. This is not ‘quantum biology’. “

Quantum entanglement is when two or more particles are connected in such a way that a common fundamental property – such as position, momentum or polarization – is not independent of one another.

To take a simple, non-quantum example, if you find a right-handed glove in your drawer, you can be sure the missing glove will fit in your left hand: knowing something about one will tell you something important about the other, and this information is not accidental.

entanglement happens naturally in quantum systems after particle collisions or almost any other time when particles interact. Although Albert Einstein wasn’t a big fan, have shown physicists in the years after entanglement itself is not super difficult to produce.

Scientists have done pretty well at entangling bigger and bigger things. You got entangled Molecular ions, larger nanoparticles, and even tiny little diamonds.

But all of these systems are still extremely small, usually very cold and well organized. A tardigrade, on the other hand – even in its dehydrated, “indestructible” state – is a comparatively large collection of frozen, untidy biological molecules.

In this new preprint paper made available on arXiv, the researchers took a species of tardigrade called Ramazzottius variornatus, and put it in a dehydrated cryptobiosis. Then they cooled it down to just 10 millikelvin above absolute zero and put it under an extremely low pressure of just 0.000006 Millibar.

Then the team conducted experiments in which it tried to connect the tardigrade with two superconducting transmon Qubits and found that they observed a “coupling” between the creature and the qubits.

After about 420 hours of experiments, they heated up the tardigrade and it went on its merry way.

But after some initial breathless headlines, some physicists and science writers point out that this is not really the case entanglement – or at least nothing that has never been done before.

“The qubit is an electrical circuit, and if you put the tardigrade next to it, it influences it through the laws of electromagnetism that we have known for more than 150 years.” Physicist and science writer Ben Brubaker writes on Twitter.

“A speck of dust next to the qubit would have a similar effect.”

So this is not really an entangled tardigrade in the truest sense of the word. Indeed, which physicist you ask about, it is either a classical (not a quantum) interaction between a qubit and a tardigrade, or there was no evidence of an interaction at all and they just laid a very cold tardigrade with very low pressure on a qubit.

The authors of the new work note that this is a new record “for the conditions in which a complex life form can survive,” which is possibly the most interesting part of this new study. However, we will have to wait for peer review to confirm these allegations.

Right now we don’t seem to have enough evidence that the first living organism was quantum entangled, so exciting as the idea of ​​a quantum tardigrade sounds maybe.

We also don’t really know how seriously to take this research, and whether the researchers knew their work would get as much attention as it does now.

“I was wondering when this preprint would be uploaded and mailed around the world,” says Tara Roberson, a researcher at the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems who specializes in science communication and hype.

“In general, if you want to read something complex and dense – academically intense – then don’t put it up in December. But if you upload something silly and easy for the audience … time! “

“I don’t know if that was part of the research team’s thinking process, but the idea of ​​an entangled tardigrade certainly made me laugh.”

The paper is available on the preprint server arXiv.


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