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Quantum weirdness could soon invade the living world, if a scheme to give a flu virus a strange double life comes off. The method might work on more complex life forms too. In quantum theory, a single object can be doing two different things at once. This is called "superposition". It might be possible with a small life form, according to Oriol Romero-Isart of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, and his colleagues. They chose the flu virus because it can survive in a vacuum – solving the problem of pesky air molecules.
Their scheme would use two laser beams, whose light exerts a gentle force on matter. Where the two beams cross they form an "optical cavity" holding the virus in place.
By adjusting the frequency of the beams, the laser photons can be made to absorb the vibration energy of the trapped virus until it is slowed to its lowest possible energy state. In this "ground state" the virus is ready to go into a superposition.