Tardigrades (microscopic organisms called moss piglets because of their special appearance) have been subjected to harsh conditions for scientific study. These highly resistant creatures are shot from a gun, immersed in boiling water, exposed to intense ultraviolet radiation, and even (accidentally) land on the moon. All of this is done to test your “tone,” a survival mechanism in which tardigrades shrink and shrink into dehydrated spheres and stop their biological functions indefinitely to withstand very unfavorable environmental conditions.
Researchers have now exposed tardigrades to the coldest temperatures and pressures at which they have survived. This has been done not only to test the biological limitations of these organisms, but also to examine whether the frozen tardigrade can merge into two intertwined quantum circuits and then return to its active state.
The results, reported in a new article in the arXiv pre-published article database, show that yes, scientists may be able to add “temporary quantum entanglement” to the growing list of tardigrade capabilities. However, the initial responses to the article contradicted its findings.
If the findings finally pass the review process, this experiment marks the first time a living thing has experienced quantum entanglement. Quantum entanglement is a strange phenomenon that is usually confined to the smallest subatomic particles.
Ghostly action in mossy piglets
The phenomenon of quantum entanglement is so bizarre that even Albert Einstein was skeptical of it, calling the process “ghostly action at a distance.” This effect occurs when two very small subatomic particles are joined together in such a way that a change in the spin or momentum of one particle immediately changes the other particle in the same way; Even when two particles are separated by very large distances.
This effect may go beyond the subatomic realm, and scientists tried to prove it in an article published in the 2018 issue of the Journal of Physics Communications. The researchers found that a specific photosynthetic bacterium could be entangled with light photons when the intensified frequency of light in a mirror room matched the frequency of electrons in the bacterium’s photosynthetic molecules.
The authors of the new arXiv article decided to test whether a multicellular organism such as Tardigrid could create such a relationship.
In their experiment, researchers collected three tardigrades from roof gutters in Denmark. The size of tardigrades in the active state was between 0.2 and 0.45 mm. However, after the researchers froze the tardigrades and toned them down, the size of these animals was reduced to one-third the size of their activity time. The researchers then froze the tardigrades further, freezing them to a temperature close to absolute zero, which is the coldest temperature the tardigrades have ever been exposed to and have been able to survive.
The researchers placed each tardigrade between two capacitor plates of a superconducting circuit that formed a quantum bit, or “qubit.” Qubit is the unit of information used in quantum computing.
When the tardigrid came in contact with the qubit (qubit B), it changed the resonant frequency of the qubit. This tardigrid-qubit combination was then coupled to the second near circuit (qubit A), so that the two qubits were entwined. In several subsequent experiments, the researchers observed that the frequencies of qubits and tardigrades fluctuated together and acted like a three-part tangled system.
Seventeen days after the tardigrades entered their tone, the researchers gently warmed them to regenerate them. One of the Tardigrids returned to active state while the other two Tardigrids died.
Researchers claim that the surviving Tardigrid is essentially the first animal to experience quantum entanglement throughout history. The researchers concluded in their article:
While we may expect the same physical results as inanimate objects with a similar composition of tardigrades, we emphasize that entanglement is seen in the whole organism that maintains its biological function after the experiment. Meanwhile, Tardigrid survived the longest and most unfavorable situation he has ever been exposed to.
While the article has not yet been reviewed by experts, the initial responses from the scientific community have been critical. Douglas Nutselson, head of the physics and astronomy department at Rice University in Texas, wrote in his blog that the tardigrid experiment was not reasonably intertwined with a qubit. Natselson writes:
What the authors did was place a tardigrade on the capacitive parts of one of the two coupled qubits. Tardigrid is mainly composed of glacial water and here acts as an insulator and changes the resonant frequency of the qubit placed on it. This does not mean entanglement.
Ben Brubaker, a former science writer and physicist, agreed. Brubaker tweeted:
The qubit is an electrical circuit, and the placement of the tardigrade in its vicinity affects it according to the laws of electromagnetism that we have known about for more than 150 years. Placing dust particles next to the qubit will have the same effect.
Of course, whether or not Tardigrid has experienced ghosting from the qubits to which it was attached, the study shows that mossy piglets are even more resistant than previously thought, and this test should at least be a reminder that Tardigrids are also normally They are attractive enough.