Quantum Boomerang: Tiny Particles Can Travel To A Location, Then Bounce Back

Credit: Pixabay

To their knowledge, scientists have discovered and validated a bizarre quantum phenomenon in which minuscule particles, when pushed out of their original position, would snap immediately back to their original position.

In fact, scientists have been predicting this unusual phenomenon, known as the quantum boomerang phenomenon, for even more than 60 years. It has been shown in a recent study that the phenomenon exists: when particles in chaotic environments are ejected from their original places, they will momentarily sail away. The majority of the time, though, instead of settling someplace else, they will zoom straight back towards where they started.

According to quantum mechanics, the unusual phenomenon cannot be described by conventional mechanistic physics; rather, it is a result of the weird principles of quantum mechanics. Whenever atoms appear not only as particles but also as waves at the same time, these waves may overlap with one another, accumulating in some locations and canceling out elsewhere, resulting in a variety of bizarre activities that we would not anticipate seeing in a physical system.

A gas comprised entirely of 100,000 lithium atoms was suspended in an electromagnetic chamber before being subjected to a beam cooling process that brought the atoms closer to absolute zero than ever before. This resulted in the atoms generating a stage of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, which the scientists demonstrated for the very first time.

Additionally, the researchers demonstrated whenever something known as time-reversal symmetry is violated, the quantum boomerang may no longer function properly. In order for the quantum boomerang phenomenon to function, time-reversal symmetry should be carefully maintained, which means that the particles must always be struck by a burst of laser jolts that are properly spaced in time.

Following confirmation that the phenomenon exists, scientists plan to investigate if it is feasible for several interconnected quantum boomerang events to occur at the same time.

The study was published in the journal Physical Review X

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