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Faintest Thrum Heralds Quantum Machines

Science  29 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5965, pp. 516-518
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5965.516

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Physicists attempting to create tiny machines whose movement obeys the weird rules of quantum mechanics, which state that an object can absorb energy only in discrete "quanta" and can be in two places at once, have nearly entered the realm of quantum motion. Ironically, to get there, they're racing to make gizmos that make literally the slightest movement, vibrating widgets drained of every possible bit of energy and quivering with only an unquenchable "zero-point motion." Recent progress toward that "ground state" of motion has come so fast that some researchers now expect that up to a half-dozen groups will observe the phenomenon in the next year. If so, then the age of quantum machines will finally have arrived.