Quantum physics makes small leap with microscopic gravity measurement

Scientists have detected the pull of gravity on the microscopic scale in a feat that lays the groundwork for probing its nature in the mysterious quantum realm.


Understanding the Force at the Subatomic Level

Physicists have successfully measured the minuscule pull of gravity on a particle less than a millimeter wide, opening up possibilities for studying the force in the quantum realm.

Using advanced superconducting apparatus and brass weights attached to an electrical bicycle wheel, researchers recorded a gravitational tug of 30 quintillionths of a newton on the microscopic particle.

This experiment marks a significant step towards measuring the gravity generated by even smaller particles and gaining insight into how gravity behaves at the subatomic level dominated by quantum rules.

The Search for Reconciliation: Quantum Mechanics and Gravity

For over a century, physicists have grappled with the challenge of reconciling quantum theory and general relativity, which describes gravity's effects on spacetime.

Understanding gravity at the quantum scale could hold answers to some of the universe's greatest mysteries, such as the origins of the universe and the workings of black holes.

Although promising ideas have emerged, designing experiments to test these theories and uncover nature's choice has proven difficult.

The Experimental Breakthrough

In the latest experiment, researchers from Leiden University and the Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies developed a method to measure the subtle gravitational forces between tiny objects.

The experiment involved levitating a magnetic particle above a superconductor cooled to almost absolute zero, while an electrical bicycle wheel with brass weights revolved nearby.

By observing the almost negligible pull on the levitated particle due to the gravitational force of the moving wheel, the physicists validated the effectiveness of their equipment.