PerspectivePhysics

Ambient quantum optomechanics

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Science  23 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6344, pp. 1232-1233
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0400

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Summary

Among our most basic experiences of the physical world is that every material object has a location, and that given sufficient illumination, this location can be determined by our sense of sight. In our everyday experience, this determination may seem purely passive, but in fact, the light that conveys information about an object's location must also perturb it. This perturbation can be thought of as arising from two sources: the radiation pressure exerted by light on any object it reflects from, and the quantum fluctuations inherent to any beam of light. On page 1265 of this issue, Purdy et al. (1) demonstrate the first measurement of this inherently quantum effect in an object at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.