LIGO collaboration for the first time directly measured the influence of quantum fluctuations on a macroscopic object — a mirror weighing 40 pounds. Work published in the journal Nature.
One of the most surprising predictions of quantum field theory is that vacuum space is not empty but filled with virtual particles that are born and die in connection with quantum fluctuations. Despite the fact that these fluctuations are very weak, scientists can measure their influence on a field or small objects. However, in everyday life, dealing with macroscopic systems, we are not able to experience directly the influence of quantum fluctuations.
The LIGO Observatory where it was first thedetection gravitational waves, is one of the most accurate systems in the world. The Observatory consists of two huge detectors, which constitute a four-kilometer interferometers with mirrors weighing 40 pounds. In the process of measuring gravitational waves laser beam is sent to the interferometer is reflected from mirrors and returns. On the time delay it is possible to know whether there has been displacement of the mirrors due to gravitational waves.
Developed a system of detectors are very well protected from outside noise, but to get rid of quantum noise due to fluctuations is completely impossible. On the other hand, with such a good protection against classical noises to measure the influence of quantum effects in a macroscopic system.
Collaboration LIGO reported that they first managed to thedetective the influence of quantum fluctuations on a macroscopic interference scheme, namely, the displacement of the mirror. Previously, scientists were able to see the effect of fluctuations only in nano-objects billions of times smaller.