Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Quantum Zeno Effect actually does stop the world

The Quantum Zeno Effect actually does stop the world: Let's say an atom is very likely to have decayed after three seconds, but very unlikely to have decayed after one. Check on it after three seconds, and it probably will have decayed. But, Misra and Sudarshan argue, check on it three times in one second intervals, and it will most likely not have decayed. Every time you check on it, it will revert to its "original" measured state, and the clock will start over. Amazingly, this actually does happen. Researchers observing sodium atoms observed that, "Depending on the frequency of measurements we observe a decay that is suppressed or enhanced as compared to the unperturbed system." The "enhanced" decay is the result of the Quantum Anti-Zeno Effect. Time your measurements just right and you can actually push a system to decay faster than it would if it were unobserved.

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