Cats may have nine lives, but only Schrödinger's can be both alive and dead at the same time. The quirky laws of quantum mechanics suggest that objects can literally exist in two states or places simultaneously until perturbed in some way, after which they collapse out of this "superposition" to just one outcome. Physicists have created such Schrödinger's cats before, usually in the guise of a single particle--a photon or electron. That's because the bigger the "cat," the harder it is to keep it undisturbed, a necessary condition for preserving the superposed state.
Physicists have come up with a scheme they think will produce a Schrödinger's cat billions of times larger than before. That would make it about the size of a feline cell--still a speck to human eyes but gigantic on the quantum scale. Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford originally conceived an experiment in space involving satellites, but collaborator Dik Bouwmeester of the University of California at Santa Barbara realized that a copycat version could be done on a tabletop, perhaps in three to five years as technology improves.
This article was originally published with the title Scaled-Up Superposition.