What if we use the & # 39; ghostly & # 39; nature of quantum confusion all wrong and we miss something?
A new experiment with the wavelength of photons made more than 7.8 billion years ago makes it more unlikely than ever. If there is a classic physics explanation for the phenomenon, it is extremely well hidden.
MIT physicists have pushed the boundaries of an experiment that they carried out last year and that used light from a nearby star. This time they used photons from far away, those who started their journey long before our own sun flared up.
Entanglement is weird. There is no doubt about that. It is so strange that brilliant spirits like Einstein could not take it for granted, making them look like & # 39; ghostly & # 39; rejected. Something else had to be at work.
And who can blame them? The phenomenon is based on a mind-boggling idea – particles do not have clearly defined properties until they interact with the device they measure.
Momentum, spin, position … these are only logical if we look hard enough at the particle. Before that time they are not & # 39; real & # 39 ;, at least not in everyday sense.
So what if two particles have interwoven their properties in some way, such as when they form together? Einstein thought that you could measure one particle and immediately something & # 39; really & # 39; knew the other. Dust hands, walk away.
The answer is still blowing today. The moment one is measured, the other – regardless of where it is in the universe – goes from a blur of possibility to a fixed measurement.
It is almost like buying a pair of shoes, but they are only real when you come home and open the shoebox. You notice that you only have the left, the one you leave behind changes spontaneously from & # 39; maybe right or left & # 39; in & # 39; absolutely certain & # 39 ;.
In the 1960s, an Irish physicist John Stewart Bell devised a series of evidence that quantum mechanics is wrong – which is not probable – or that it is true, and indeed there are no hidden laws behind the scenes that could explain this strangeness.
Bell's statement leaves a few possible explanations, including the small chance that we are wrong about quantum mechanics. But physicists slowly exclude them one by one.
A permanent option is the loophole in the "freedom of choice". Perhaps when we decide what to measure in a particle, is there a domino effect that only creates an illusion of a correlation between particle properties?
If you are in the shoe store and lift your left foot, the cosmic shopkeeper behind the counter may notice a left shoe in front of you while holding the judge. Of course, it's a cheat, but it's still classic physics, which means that the universe would work under the guidance of that familiar speed of light messaging rather than something weird.
By making pairs of photons and then determining exactly what needs to be measured in a laboratory, sufficient space remains for a classic physics equivalent of the shopkeeper to create the illusion of a mysterious correlation.
But if you were to take some distance between the choice of measurement and the actual measurement process, it would be more difficult to limit those choices by a non-ghostly knock-on effect.
Last year it was six centuries away, because the MIT team used the light of a nearby star as a cosmic medal to decide what to measure in a entanglement experiment.
This time the team turned their attention to a few quasars – the energetic cores of distant galaxies. The light of one was radiated 12.2 billion years ago. Light from the other set is so & # 39; s 7.8 billion years ago.
A pair of telescopes glanced at the colors of each and used them to decide how the polarization of each photon in a pair that had been entangled in a separate laboratory could be measured.
In two trials, the team found correlations between 30,000 pairs of photons, which goes far beyond what Bell calculated was necessary for the explanation of freedom of choice.
This enormous distance between time and space between coin flip and measurement leaves little room for some flim-flam behind the scenes to influence the measurement conditions of the experiment.
How big? The chance that there is still a classic statement is now part of 100 billion billion.
"If there is a conspiracy to simulate quantum mechanics with a mechanism that is actually classic, then that mechanism should have started working – somehow knowing exactly when, where and how this experiment would be done – at least 7 , 8 billion years ago, "said co-author Alan Guth of the study.
This research has been published in Physical Review Letters.