Inspired by the wiki-article on atom-lasers:

Another application, which might also benefit from atom lasers, is atom interferometry. In an atom interferometer an atomic wave packet is coherently split into two wave packets that follow different paths before recombining. Atom interferometers, which can be more sensitive than optical interferometers, could be used to test quantum theory, and have such high precision that they may even be able to detect changes in space-time

, i would ask you to list more examples of CURRENT measurement techniques getting developed & tested, that will likely drastically enlarge our knowledge and falsification options of physical theories. But not Sci-Fi and Star Trek Physics ;). Mainly i can think of improvements that will allow

  • more accurate measurement of physical constants/parameters (higher particle energies CERN, better atomic clocks/time definition by Pulsar periods)
  • direct measurement of so far only indirect definable physical quantities (e.g. atom laser)
  • at all new concepts of (real-time) measurement techniques due to improvements e.g. in computational physics (e.g. quantum computing) or better visualisation of phenomena (adaptive optics in telescopes)

Please name the technique and give short example/link to the physics field profiting from it. Examples i mentioned can also be explained further, as im no expert in these fields

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is kind of speculative, but it seems like it could be good as long as we stick to techniques that are actually being developed (in other words, let's list things that are expected to be built not just that could be built). But as a list question it does have to be community wiki. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 16 '11 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ @David i asked this question to get insider/expert descriptinos on current developments similar to mentioned ones, which are imo everything but speculative. PS: where are other community wiki post? is there a tag? I read in FAQ user get no rep for posting here, so no incentive?! PPS: there should be more experimental questions, thats another motivation for this question $\endgroup$ Jun 16 '11 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Werner: it might be good to specify that you were interested in current developments in the question, to make it clear that it's not as speculative as it may sound at first. Regardless, it would still be a community wiki question because you're asking for a list, and there is no one right answer. There are other CW posts on the site but as far as I know there is no way to search for them. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 16 '11 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Werner, the most popular CW question in this forum is (i think) about lists of free physics books, i don't remember others. There definitely there should be a way to search for CW questions $\endgroup$
    – lurscher
    Jun 16 '11 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @lurscher common false belief got quite big question. So imo community post are not off topic here at all, i dont see the difference between this & my question. But all community post should be tagged as such of course, seems best & only option on SE or google search inurl:physics.stackexchange $\endgroup$ Jun 16 '11 at 15:47

I cannot give a list. But I can indicate one achievement. The Zeilinger group proved in the last years that even complex molecule that can be found in the human body, display a quantum nature, i.e. have a wave-length can we can get interference with them. This thing in important in a major question asked in the quantum theory: where is the limit between the quantum mechanics and the classical mechanics. There are many variants of this question. For instance, show an object be BIG for requiring a classical, instead of a quantum mathematical treatment? And HOW BIG. The Zeilinger group gave an answer: big molecules can also produce interference. Here is reference,


Look for the article "The wave nature of biomolecules and fluorofullerenes", quant-ph/0309016 v1.

Anther form of this question is: should an object represent an "open system", i.e. in permanent contact with its environment for deserving a classical treatment? Well, the answer to this question is longer, and quite ambiguous.

I can indicate some application of atom-lasers. See for instance what writes a group of researchers from Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, and Germany: "Similar to the principle of an electron microscope, atomic matter waves could be utilized to resolve structures on the nanometer scale ... In contrast to electrons, atoms exhibit an extremely small de-Broglie wavelength even at low energies."

I hope that it helps,



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