HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Martin Madsen

University of Michigan

Experimental Quantum Mechanics: Exploring the Quantum World One Atom at a Time

Jan. 24, 2006

"Atoms on a small scale behave like nothing on a large scale, for they satisfy the laws of quantum mechanics," observed Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th century. We can now explore the unusual behavior of a single atom through the combination of an electrical trap and lasers that enable us to isolate and control a single charged atom. Key elements of quantum mechanics, such as the inherently random nature of the atom and how the act of observation changes the atom, can be exploited leading to some surprising possibilities such as quantum computing. Many "thought experiments," first imagined by Einstein and others, exposing some of the strangest aspects of the theory of quantum mechanics are now routinely tested with precision in the laboratory.