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Thu Jul 2, 2020, 03:16 PM

Quantum 'kick' on big object measured for 1st time ever

By Mike Wall 7 hours ago

The breakthrough could lead to even more gravitational-wave discoveries for the LIGO team.



The LIGO project operates two detector sites: one near Hanford in eastern Washington, and
another near Livingston, Louisiana (shown here).
(Image: LIGO Collaboration)

Quantum effects are pushing us around all the time, and we now have observational evidence of this somewhat disconcerting fact.

Researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration have measured the tiny kick imparted to their exquisitely sensitive equipment by quantum fluctuations, a new study reports.

And that kick is indeed tiny, moving LIGO's 88-lb. (40 kilograms) mirrors just 10^-20 meters, the scientists found.

"A hydrogen atom is 10^-10 meters, so this displacement of the mirrors is to a hydrogen atom what a hydrogen atom is to us and we measured that," study co-author Lee McCuller, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, said in a statement.

Other research groups have measured such quantum effects before, but never on this scale. The LIGO mirrors are about 1 billion times heavier than previously observed "kicked" objects, study team members said.

More:
https://www.space.com/quantum-kick-measured-ligo-mirror.html?utm_source=notification

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