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Space-based experiment could test gravity’s effects on quantum entanglement

Posted June 2, 2014
BEC orbits
In the proposed experiment, two entangled BECs in separate satellites begin by moving in the same circular orbit (small orbit in the illustration). Then one of them undergoes an acceleration in order to change to a different circular orbit by means of an elliptical transfer orbit. The change in gravity is predicted to cause a degradation of the entanglement between the BECs. Credit: Bruschi, et al. ©2014 IOP Publishing Ltd

Physicists are continually looking for ways to unify the theory of relativity, which describes large-scale phenomena, with quantum theory, which describes small-scale phenomena. In a new proposed experiment in this area, two toaster-sized “nanosatellites” carrying entangled condensates orbit around the Earth, until one of them moves to a different orbit with a different gravitational field strength. As a result of the change in gravity, the entanglement between the condensates is predicted to degrade by up to 20%. Experimentally testing the proposal may be possible in the near future.

The paper, which is published in a recent issue of the New Journal of Physics by David Edward Bruschi, et al., theoretically demonstrates how relativistic effects impact the quantum world.

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