News of the WeekQuantum Physics

Microscale Weirdness Expands Its Turf

Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5521.1471

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Summary

Physicists in Austria are breaking down the tidy distinction between large objects, which follow the classical laws of physics, and small ones, which are governed by quantum mechanics. In a paper posted on the Los Alamos preprint archives (arXiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0105061) and submitted to Physical Review Letters, they show that clusters of 70 carbon atoms--monsters by quantum-theory standards--are governed by the archquantum law known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. These clusters are the largest, most complicated objects that have been shown to obey Heisenberg's law, and they are helping scientists understand the increasingly fuzzy divide between the quantum and the classical.