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I Does this explain the Zeno effect observed

  1. Mar 21, 2017 #1
    Quantum zeno effect states that an unstable particle can be prevented from decaying by being observed/measured. It has been experimentally proven.
    However, this observation/measurement does not refer to simply looking at it. This effect vanishes as we zoom out to the macroscopic world. Hence, a chunck of radioactive metal will not decay slower just because we stared at it or placed sensors around it.
    In those experiments, ultra cooled atoms are kept in an excited state and an em pulse is passed through them for measurement. The atoms decayed to their ground state slower. I m suspecting that the reason behind this is that the em pulses are helping to keep the atoms in the excited state to slow down decay. What do you guys think?
    Also it has been speculated that this effect can apply to black holes although this does not gain much acceptance
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2017 #2


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    It's not "observation/measurement"; any interaction sufficient to collapse the wave function will do the trick. It just so happens that you can't measure something without interacting with it. So you're on the right track when you say
    We don't do speculation here.
  4. Mar 21, 2017 #3


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    It's of course the interaction of the atoms with the em. field that keeps them longer in the unstable state. It's just popular-science gibberish to say that observing something hinders the atom to decay to the ground state.
  5. Mar 22, 2017 #4


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  6. Mar 22, 2017 #5


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    It is a part of standard professional language in the field to say that measurement causes the quantum Zeno effect, as can be seen e.g. in https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0411145
    But one should distinguish measurement from observation. Measurement is a physical process of interaction, observation happens in a subjective mind.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  7. Mar 22, 2017 #6
    This means that only microscopic quantum systems are subjected to this effect i think. And i also believe that as long as the measurement stops, the effect wears off
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
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