Quantum Connection Between Light and Motion
Physicists have demonstrated a system in which light is used to control the motion of an object that is large enough to be seen with the naked eye at the level where quantum mechanics governs its behavior.
The movement of objects is ultimately governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, which predict some intriguing phenomena: An object could simultaneously be in two places at the same time, and it should always be moving a little, even at a temperature of absolute zero—the oscillator is then said to be in its quantum ‘ground state’. Until recently, these strange predictions of quantum mechanics have only been observed in the motion of tiny objects such as individual atoms. For large objects, the unavoidable coupling of the object to the surrounding environment quickly washes out the quantum properties, in a process known as decoherence. But researchers found that it is possible to use light to control the vibrational motion of a large object, consisting of a hundred trillion atoms, at the quantum level.