What Serge Harush wants his readers to understand is by no means easy: Katzen states, Wegner functions, Fresnel vectors, Rydberg atoms, Ramsay interferometers, Rabe oscillations. He explains how to count light quantities without seeing them and how to play ping pong with them. Anyone who has read all of this without getting a headache has a remarkable ability to focus. Harush knows exactly what he’s talking about, because the French physicist was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012 for his extraordinary achievements in the experimental investigation of individual quantum systems. This was in appreciation of the fact that he was able to carry out basic quantum phenomena in the laboratory, which for decades had only existed in textbooks as theoretical thought experiments.
science is global
One must first read the brief closing speech to understand Haroche’s true motive for the work. In addition to presenting his achievements in an interesting way, the researcher wants to confront the dangers to science as a whole, namely “post-realist thinking”, “alternative facts” and “cultural relativism”. In this way, readers must realize – contrary to theses of cultural relativism – that science is universal and therefore has no limits. Exploring the Light is a great example of celebrating the light of science.
Readers interested in physics are sure to be familiar with the unexplained state of health of Schrödinger’s cat. The animal, named after the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, is contained in a container with a radioactive substance. When the radioactive atomometer registers, a lethal mechanism is triggered and the cat dies. Since quantum mechanical objects such as the atomic nucleus can tolerate multiple states at the same time (decay, not decay), a cat would also be both alive and dead. One of the solutions to the puzzle is the so-called decoherence, according to which the coupling of the cat’s health state with the state of the atomic nucleus is rapidly destroyed by interactions with the environment. Haroche has now provided at least empirical evidence for decoherence. He succeeded in measuring the entanglement decay – quantum mechanical coupling – of light particles over time.
“Explorer. Communicator. Music geek. Web buff. Social media nerd. Food fanatic.”