It’s not every day you learn that a moss piglet, one nickname for tardigrades, survived quantum entanglement. Although the finding is not yet peer-reviewed, the researchers suggest it could be the first animal in history to survive quantum entanglement.
Or at least, it’s the first animal that scientists have quantum entangled in a lab experiment. Already, the findings are sparking controversy while much certainly remains entirely unknown on the mysterious subject. Famously, Einstein called quantum entanglement “spooky action at a distance,” but as more is learned, it may lead to giant spooky leaps in our understanding of the universe.
Notably, one survived the experiment out of three tardigrades, also called water bears. All three came from a lowly gutter somewhere in Denmark.
From the Gutter to Quantum History
Scientists from Europe and Asia chose to test tardigrades because perhaps only these microscopic critters could survive being frozen to a fraction of a degree about absolute zero. That way, they could study a carefully controlled environment without interference from all other influences. Also, they could apply the tardigrades to superconducting Qubit chips requiring extremely low temperatures.
Then, the tardigrades went into their “tun” states, a remarkable state of low metabolism during cryptobiosis.
In this state, they dry out, their metabolism virtually stops, and they can survive for decades. For this reason, there may currently be thousands of tardigrades in a tun state on the Moon following a 2019 crashed Israeli moon mission.
Other creatures that survive such extremes are microscopic bdelloids, known to reproduce after 24,000 years frozen.
Quantum Entangled Tardigrades
Here’s how LiveScience described the quantum tardigrade experiment:
“The team placed each frozen tardigrade between two capacitor plates of a superconductor circuit that formed a quantum bit, or “qubit” — a unit of information used in quantum computing. When the tardigrade came into contact with the qubit (named Qubit B), it shifted the qubit’s resonant frequency. That tardigrade-qubit-hybrid was then coupled to a second nearby circuit (Qubit A), so that the two qubits became entangled. Over several tests that followed, the researchers saw that the frequency of both qubits and the tardigrade changed in tandem, resembling a three-part entangled system.”
See how they did it from NYU Quantum Technology Lab. As you can see, the lab seems to find the whole concept quite funny.
Scientist’s Criticism of the Experiment
After the experiment, the scientists revived the three tardigrades, but, as noted, only one survived to make history.
“The animal is observed to return to its active form, setting a new record for the conditions that a complex form of life can survive,” said the team.
Not only did it survive near absolute zero, but also entanglement. Way to go, little guy!
“While one might expect similar physical results from inanimate objects with similar composition to the tardigrade, we emphasize that entanglement is observed with [an] entire organism that retains its biological functionality post-experiment,” they said.
Their statement seems to anticipate the criticism they soon received from other scientists, who pointed out they may get a similar result from inanimate objects like ice or dust particles.
“What the authors did here was put a tardigrade on top of the capacitive parts of one of two coupled qubits,” Rice University scientist Douglas Natelson wrote. “The tardigrade is mostly (frozen) water, and here it acts like a dielectric, shifting the resonance frequency of the one qubit that it sat on… This is not entanglement in any meaningful sense.”
As Discover points out:
“…the researchers simulated their experiment by treating the tardigrade as a dielectric cube.
Tardigrades by Animalogic:
Extreme Suspended Animation
While quantum tardigrades remain in question, the experiment certainly created the “most extreme form of suspended animation ever recorded,” noted Discover.
On the other hand, more research is necessary to understand how quantum entanglement affects biological life processes.
“Our work provides a first step in the exciting direction of creating hybrid systems consisting of living matter and quantum bits,” the study suggested.
More experiments are being conducted on tardigrades all the time. See the video by WIRED:
Quantum Changes in Reality
The quantum tardigrades experiment draws comparisons to Schrödinger’s cat, a famous thought experiment about the state of a cat inside a box. At the time, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger found the idea that a conscious observer could affect quantum states absurd, so he devised an imaginary cat experiment to point it out.
Nevertheless, scientists have recently conducted experiments that seem to confirm that reality can change at the quantum level in the presence of a human observer. Thus, they confirmed Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner’s 1961 thought experiment called “Wigner’s friend.”
Particles of light (photons) exist in two possible states, called superposition. The axis on which a photon spins (called polarization) is either vertical or horizontal.
A photon will take on a fixed polarization to an observer in a lab. However, the same photon will remain in two states at once for observers outside the room.
Thus, it suggests reality itself is subjective, at least at the quantum level. It remains a fascinating mystery how quantum entanglement affects the light all around us, much less how it could affect our bodies and all living things. Even more mysterious, could quantum entanglement affect reality in other dimensions or consciousness? Subjects such as these have been the subject of science fiction movies but could be much more real than we currently realize.