Is the frozen tardigrade the first quantum-state animal in history?

Is the frozen tardigrade the first quantum-state animal in history?

Tardigrades - incredibly resistant microscopic creatures, capable of surviving immersion in boiling water, lack of oxygen and intense ultraviolet radiation, thanks to a state of suspended life, a survival mechanism in which tardigrades curl up and dehydrate, suspending the their biological functions indefinitely to withstand extreme environmental conditions.

Now, researchers have exposed tardigrades to the coldest temperatures and highest pressures tardigrades have ever survived - not just to test biological limits of creatures, but also to see if a frozen tardigrade could be incorporated into two quantum entangled electrical circuits, then subsequently reanimated to its normal active state.

The results, reported in a new article published on the prepress database arXiv, suggest that, yes, scientists may be able to add “entanglement quan temporary tistico “to the growing list of achievements of the tardigrade. However, early responses to the paper disputed this finding. If the results ultimately stand up to peer review, then this experiment will represent the first time a living animal has been quantistically entangled - a bizarre phenomenon typically limited to the smallest subatomic particles.

The phenomenon of quantum entanglement is so strange that even Albert Einstein had his doubts about it, famously dubbing the process "ghostly action at a distance". Essentially, the effect occurs when two tiny subatomic particles bind to each other so that a change in the spin or momentum of one particle instantly changes the other particle the same way - even when the two particles they are separated by incredibly large distances.

This effect may be able to transcend the subatomic realm, as scientists attempted to demonstrate in a 2018 article in the Journal of Physics Communications. That team found that some photosynthetic bacteria were able to become entangled with photons of light, when the resonant frequency of light in a mirrored room eventually synchronized with the frequency of electrons in the bacteria's photosynthetic molecules, Live Science previously reported. .

The authors of the new arXiv article set out to test whether a multicellular organism such as a tardigrade could develop such a relationship. In their experiment, the team collected three tardigrades from a roof gutter in Denmark. In their animate state, the tardigrades measured between 0.008 and 0.018 inches (0.2 to 0.45 millimeters) - however, after the researchers froze the tardigrades and sent them into a state of attunement, the animals shrank. at about one-third that size.

Photo credit - From there, the team further froze the tardigrades, cooling them to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero - the coldest temperature at which a tardigrade has ever been exposed and survived. The team placed each frozen tardigrade between two capacitor plates of a superconducting circuit that formed a quantum bit, or "qubit" - a unit of information used in quantum computing. When the tardigrade made contact with the qubit (called Qubit B), it shifted the resonant frequency of the qubit. That tardigrade-qubit hybrid was then coupled to a second neighbor circuit (Qubit A), so that the two qubits got entangled. Over the course of several tests that followed, the researchers saw that the frequency of both qubits and the tardigrade changed in tandem, similar to a three-part entangled system.

Seventeen days after the tardigrades entered in their attuned states, the researchers gently warmed them in an attempt to revive them. One of the tardigrades returned to its animate state, while the other two died. That survivor has indeed become the first quantum entangled animal in history, the researchers said. The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed, but early responses from the scientific community have been critical. Douglas Natelson, chair of the physics and astronomy department at Rice University in Texas, wrote on his blog that the experiment "did not entangle a tardigrade with a qubit in any meaningful sense." "What the authors did here was put a tardigrade over the capacitive parts of one of the two paired qubits," wrote Natelson. "The tardigrade is mostly (frozen) water, and here it acts as a dielectric, shifting the resonant frequency of the only qubit it sits on. This is not entanglement in any meaningful sense. "

" The qubit is an electrical circuit and putting the tardigrade next to it affects it through the laws of electromagnetism that we have known for more than 150 years, "tweeted Ben Brubaker, science writer and former physicist. "Putting a speck of dust next to the qubit would have a similar effect."

Whether or not the tardigrade experienced a "ghostly action" from the qubits it was attached to, the study shows that the critters are even more durable than previously thought. As exciting as a "quantum tardigrade" may seem, this experiment should at least serve as a reminder that normal tardigrades are fascinating enough on their own.

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