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Elucidating the quantum behavior of large ensembles of interacting particles typically requires knowledge of the system’s many-body wave function. When the ensemble contains a few million atoms—typical for Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs)—this is no mean feat. Sean Hodgman, from the Australian National University, and colleagues have now demonstrated a way to tackle this so-called quantum many-body problem that doesn’t require the wave function to be known. Their method instead determines all the parameters needed to characterize the system from measurements of the correlations between the momenta of individual atoms in the ensemble.

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Category: Science