Today’s Solutions: April 23, 2024
What is a tardigrade?

Many people accept that the toughest animal on earth is the tiny tardigrade. These little critters – also known as “moss piglets” – can endure the most extreme conditions you can think of. From being bathed in boiling water, shot out of a gun, living on the moon, and extreme radiation.

The impressive mechanism that allows them to be almost indestructible is their protective “tun” state. Here, the tardigrade curls up into a ball where their biological functions are suspended, allowing them to endure harsh conditions.

Tardigrades and quantum entanglement

Research published in arXiv has claimed that these tiny organisms may also be able to survive quantum entanglement! This process is when two linked, minuscule subatomic particles influence each other’s actions, regardless of the distance between them. This weird phenomenon even left Albert Einstein scratching his head, with him famously nicknaming the process “spooky action at a distance”.

To gain further insight into quantum entanglement, the researchers froze the tardigrades and placed them in a circuit with a quantum bit or “quibit” (a unit of information used in quantum computing). When the organism came into contact with the circuit, the properties of the quibit changed as a tardigrade-qubit hybrid was created. Further experiments also showed how these particles impacted each other’s states in tandem, adding more evidence to support their entangled nature.

Some resistance

Although exciting, early responses from experts took issue with the findings. After the paper went through rigorous peer review, the conclusion was that it was not truly the first example of an animal undergoing quantum entanglement.

Despite the quantum entanglement theory being disproved, more information about the incredible durability of tardigrades has been uncovered. This knowledge about these tiny but tough creatures will likely feed scientists with inspiration for new materials and allow a deeper understanding of the natural world.

Source study: arXivEntanglement between superconducting qubits and a tardigrade

This story was part of our Best of 2022 series highlighting our top solutions from the year. Today we’re featuring solutions in science and technology.

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