Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University
By Science Daily
Electrons are elementary particles — indivisible, unbreakable. But new research suggests the electron’s quantum state — the electron wave function — can be separated into many parts. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.
New research by physicists from Brown University puts the profound strangeness of quantum mechanics in a nutshell — or, more accurately, in a helium bubble.
Experiments led by Humphrey Maris, professor of physics at Brown, suggest that the quantum state of an electron — the electron’s wave function — can be shattered into pieces and those pieces can be trapped in tiny bubbles of liquid helium. To be clear, the researchers are not saying that the electron can be broken apart. Electrons are elementary particles, indivisible and unbreakable. But what the researchers are saying is in some ways more bizarre.
In quantum mechanics, particles do not have a distinct position in space. Instead, they exist as a wave function, a probability distribution that includes all the possible locations where a particle might be found. Maris and his colleagues are suggesting that parts of that distribution can be separated and cordoned off from each other.
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