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Zenith Grant Awardee

Catalina Oana Curceanu

Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare

Project Title

\"Events\" as we see them: experimental test of the collapse models as a solution of the measurement-problem.

Project Summary

One of the main pillars of our understanding of Nature and the Universe is the Quantum Theory (QT), which, in spite of its tantalizing success, generates many debates, rooted in its puzzles, which trigger efforts towards a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms. What we know about the world is based on the “events” we measure. But the measurement process is hiding one of the deepest mysteries of QT: the “measurement problem”. A system evolves, according to the QT, as being in a linear superposition of all the allowed states, but, when a measurement takes place, only one state emerges as the unambiguous “event”. How (even whether) the wave function collapses? This phenomenon harbors the secrets of the “Physics of What Happens”, with implications in cosmology, philosophy, and in understanding brain and consciousness. We shall perform the first dedicated experiment in the Gran Sasso (Italy) low-background underground laboratory, to investigate an elegant solution proposed to solve the “measurement problem”: the Dynamical Reduction Models. We will achieve a far deeper understanding of the “measurement problem”, intimately connected to the Physics of What Happens, and we might even glance to the theory beyond the actual QT, in the quest for unveiling reality.

Technical Abstract

We will investigate the phenomenon which harbors the secrets of the “Physics of What Happens”: the collapse of the wave function, generating the “events” on which relies our comprehension of Nature and the Universe. The collapse of the wave function gave birth in Quantum Theory to the “measurement problem”, to which huge theoretical efforts are devoted. As a result of these efforts, the Dynamical Reduction Models (DRM) provide a consistent framework for understanding how “classical world” emerges from quantum mechanics. DRM’s dynamics practically preserves the quantum linearity for the microscopic systems, but becomes strongly nonlinear going towards macroscopic scale, giving birth to specific experimentally testable predictions. We will compute the rate of the spontaneous radiation emitted by the charged particles, as a consequence of the DRM collapse mechanism, and perform the first dedicated measurement by using ultra-pure Germanium detectors in the Gran Sasso (Italy) underground laboratory. We will either set a limit on the collapse rate below the theoretical value, then the DRM need to be either discarded or modified, or unveil signals of the collapse mechanism. In either case we’ll achieve a deeper understanding of reality and we might even glimpse the theory beyond the actual Quantum Theory.

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