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Physicists found the shortest measurement to collapse a quantum state

Measuring a quantum object makes it lose its odd quantum properties, and it only takes between 0.1 billionth of a second to 0.1 sextillionth of a second

Physics 22 September 2022

Interference and waves in a digital raster micro structure - 3D illustration; Shutterstock ID 1993243520; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

Quantum wave function collapse is not instantaneous

Shutterstock / peterschreiber.media

The collapse of the quantum wave function – in which quantum objects go from existing within many possible states at once to settling into a concrete one understood by classical physics –  does not happen instantaneously, directly challenging a longstanding textbook understanding of quantum physics.

The most notorious example of this phenomenon is Erwin Schrödinger’s thought experiment where a cat in a box is in a quantum state of both “dead” and “alive” at the same time. Opening the box and looking at …