Physicists have the sound of & # 39; Nothing & # 39; measured at room temperature – an important step in our future ability to listen to the universe.
It's a bit of an idea – we've been able to measure the way some of the ubiquitous "background noise" of space interacts with our equipment, which will hopefully help us optimize it in the future.
After all, the entire universe is crackling with the statics of quantum physics and to be able to absorb the faint echoes of distant astronomical giants – such as the gravitational waves that splatter a black hole – we must be able to balance the quantum statics.
Let's take a step back. What does it exactly mean, the sound of the & # 39; Nothing & # 39; to eat?
By now, most of us know that the vacuum does not empty anything ̵
This experiment investigated a phenomenon called quantum radiation pressure that occurs when particles interact with detectors such as LIGO – the US Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, just over three years ago for confirmation of existence was responsible for gravitational waves.
This quantum radiation pressure becomes a kind of & # 39; Noise & # 39; which can affect the results. But like other quantum phenomena, we would normally have to study it in extremely cold temperatures to keep the particles quiet and figure out what's going on.
However, a team of researchers from Louisiana State University actually measured this quantum effect under real conditions – at room temperature.
This is useful because we may now be able to translate the results to reality. world equipment.
This experiment was performed using miniature versions of LIGO – the full size are two observatories housed nearly 2,000 miles apart.
By comparing the alignment of laser beams over a distance, LIGO in 2015 became tiny spacequakes caused by a pair of black holes that swirled 1.3 billion light-years away.
A combination of a black hole sounds as if it were loud, but these first waves discovered distorted space on a tiny, tiny scale – about 1/1000 of the diameter of a proton.
Yes, two objects were twice as large as the mass of our Sun, which collapsed to create this stunningly small wave.
Since then we've only gotten better when I split-se the distortions in space-time caused by the intense movements of massive objects.
But despite our improvements, we still get just a tiny piece of the puzzle – to "hear" a wider range of sounds in advanced versions of LIGO needs much more sensitive device.
"Given the imperative for more sensitive gravitational wave detectors, it is important to study the effects of quantum radiation pressure noise in a system similar to Advanced LIGO," says physicist Thomas Corbitt.
Here are the new measurements Practical: The ability to measure the quantum radiation pressure in detectors like LIGO allows future gravitational wave detectors to separate even weaker signatures from smaller or more distant collisions.
This is an important first step.
We can not silence the quantum whisper, but now that we have a better idea of how they sound, we may be able to hear what the giants say.
This research was published in . Nature.