Macroscopic quantum phenomena (MQP) is a relatively new research venue, with exciting ongoing experiments and bright prospects, yet with surprisingly little theoretical activity. What makes MQP intellectually stimulating is because it is counterpoised against the traditional view that macroscopic means classical. This simplistic and hitherto rarely challenged view need be scrutinized anew, perhaps with much of the conventional wisdoms repealed. In this series of papers we report on a systematic investigation into some key foundational issues of MQP, with the hope of constructing a viable theoretical framework for this new endeavour. The three major themes discussed in these three essays are the large N expansion, the correlation hierarchy and quantum entanglement for systems of 'large' sizes, with many components or degrees of freedom. In this paper we use different theories in a variety of contexts to examine the conditions or criteria whereby a macroscopic quantum system may take on classical attributes, and, more interestingly, that it keeps some of its quantum features. The theories we consider here are, the O(N) quantum mechanical model, semiclassical stochastic gravity and gauge / string theories; the contexts include that of a 'quantum roll' in inflationary cosmology, entropy generation in quantum Vlasov equation for plasmas, the leading order and next-to-leading order large N behaviour, and hydrodynamic / thermodynamic limits. The criteria for classicality in our consideration include the use of uncertainty relations, the correlation between classical canonical variables, randomization of quantum phase, environment-induced decoherence, decoherent history of hydrodynamic variables, etc. All this exercise is to ask only one simple question: Is it really so surprising that quantum features can appear in macroscopic objects? By examining different representative systems where detailed theoretical analysis has been carried out, we find that there is no a priori good reason why quantum phenomena in macroscopic objects cannot exist.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)