Large Grants
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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Dr. Keith C. Schwab
Cornell University

Project Title

Probing Quantum Mechanics with Mechanical Structures

Project Summary

The fundamental theory which describes the behavior of the microscopic world of atoms, electrons, and photons is called quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics has shown itself to be correct in laboratory experiments and tests, with no known exceptions. In spite of this, there are problems: quantum mechanics allows particles to exist in two places simultaneously (observations in laboratory experiments show this to be true.) If the small particles are allowed to behave in this strange way, and larger objects are made of these small particles, then why can not large objects be in two places simultaneously? This behavior is far outside our normal experience of reality. We are pursuing experiments to do just this, to produce ever larger objects in two spatial locations at the same time. We are using the most advance tools science gives us to do this: nanofabrication, ultra-low temperature physics, and quantum electronic devices. We will either succeed to show quantum mechanics is true at bizarrely large length scales, or we will fail and possibly find new features to quantum mechanics which are not yet known. Both possibilities would change our view of the physical world.

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