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Events in Physics
Title: Quantum Mechanics On Giant Scales    (Colloquia)
Start Date: 10/27/2008
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: 1 LeConte
Speaker: Nergis Mavalvala
Affiliation: M.I.T.

Laser cooling of macroscopic mechanical oscillators has applications in high precision measurements, gravitational wave detectors, and exploration of the classical-quantum transition. We describe a series of cooling experiments, inspired by gravitational wave detectors, to trap and cool gram scale mirror oscillators. To approach quantum limits of macroscopic oscillators requires the use of cooling techniques that rely on non-mechanical forces both to trap the mirror by increasing its effective mechanical resonant frequency, and to cool the mirror by damping its motion within the trap. A variety of experimental efforts worldwide are working to approach the quantum regime, with the goal of observing non-classical effects such as quantum radiation pressure noise, squeezing and entanglement of the light and mirror states. I will describe the status of these experiments and discuss the prospects for observation of quantum effects in macroscopic oscillators.