Skip to comments.Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory
Posted on 12/28/2005 1:42:38 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
Einstein said there would be days like this.
This fall scientists announced that they had put a half dozen beryllium atoms into a "cat state."
No, they were not sprawled along a sunny windowsill. To a physicist, a "cat state" is the condition of being two diametrically opposed conditions at once, like black and white, up and down, or dead and alive.
These atoms were each spinning clockwise and counterclockwise at the same time. Moreover, like miniature Rockettes they were all doing whatever it was they were doing together, in perfect synchrony. Should one of them realize, like the cartoon character who runs off a cliff and doesn't fall until he looks down, that it is in a metaphysically untenable situation and decide to spin only one way, the rest would instantly fall in line, whether they were across a test tube or across the galaxy.
The idea that measuring the properties of one particle could instantaneously change the properties of another one (or a whole bunch) far away is strange to say the least - almost as strange as the notion of particles spinning in two directions at once. The team that pulled off the beryllium feat, led by Dietrich Leibfried at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Boulder, Colo., hailed it as another step toward computers that would use quantum magic to perform calculations.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Perfect communication device...........
Dead and alive is my cat's state.
And "faster" than the speed of light........
Or cars that fly!
No information transfer channel appears to be involved...unfortunately.
Spooky action at a distance.
Another big WOW!
I love quantum mechanics but then again, I never did believe in a classical reality.
What did they have against kitty cats?
Wow... That made my head hurt.
So has anyone confirmed yet that the cat is both dead and alive? I wonder what it would be like.
Well, I'm not a physicist, but from what I've read about these experiments, I'm not particularly convinced. It seems like they are basing their conclusions on assumptions that certain aspects of the quantum theory are correct. Sure, if you assume that the equations of quantum mechanics are correct, then you are going to get experimental results that seem consistent with them.
It doesn't really prove anything that these guys are able to poke holes in Einstein's conjectures. Einstein did not have all of the pieces of the puzzle, either. What is embarrassing, though, is that the groupthink the experimental physicists are engaged in does not seem to allow room for them to devise experiments that might test their own theories. They are only concerned about testing Einstein's.
Quantum Kerry? For and Against! Brilliant yet Stupid!
"And "faster" than the speed of light........"
It's exciting to think that someday our ancestors will indeed colonize the stars. It's a shame medical technology is behind Quantum physics technology so we could live longer and actually see it.
It's all Schrödinger's fault...
Sooooo, if a cat dies in a box and there's no one to see it,
it's still alive? Only liberals would go for something like
First I convince myself that you're kidding...then I convince myself that you're not kidding...I call 'cat state'!!
I suppose it depends on whether you observe them from above or below.
I mean, the Earth rotates clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously...depending on whether the observer is looking down from above the North pole or the South pole.
Once a reference frame is fixed, clockwise and counterclockwise are well-defined.
When I read this my nose is both bleeding and not bleeding at the same time.
Big deal. John Kerry already achieved this state more than a year ago. Maybe we should start calling it the DemoCAT party.
I wonder if that man even HAD a cat.
Einstein never reconciled himself to quantum mechanics in the Copenhagen mold. The EPR paper was his attempt to show that either quantum mechanics is incomplete (which he thought to be the case) or that quantum mechanics (and so reality) is non-local (which he didn't think was the case). Bell's inequalities gave physicists hope of finding out experimentally which of the these two options was the case; Aspect's experiments showed that it was the latter, that is, that quantum mechanics (and so reality) has a non-local aspect (so to speak!). These results post-dated Einstein's death, of course, so he wasn't forced to confront the consequences.
John Stuart Bell proved such superluminal communication was not possible.
I can't keep up! I'm still confused by tachyons.
Portions of this entry contributed by Leonardo Motta
Portions of this entry contributed by Waldyr A. Rodrigues, Jr.
Tachyons are a putative class of particles which able to travel faster than the speed of light. Tachyons were first proposed by physicist Arnold Sommerfeld, and named by Gerald Feinberg. The word tachyon derives from the Greek (tachus), meaning "speedy." Tachyons have the strange properties that, when they lose energy, they gain speed. Consequently, when tachyons gain energy, they slow down. The slowest speed possible for tachyons is the speed of light.
Tachyons appear to violate causality (the so-called causality problem), since they could be sent to the past under the assumption that the principle of special relativity is a true law of nature, thus generating a real unavoidable time paradox (Maiorino and Rodrigues 1999). Therefore, it seems unavoidable that if tachyons exist, the principle of special relativity must be false, and there exists a unique time order for all observers in the universe independent of their state of motion.
Tachyons can be assigned properties of normal matter such as spin, as well as an antiparticle (the antitachyon). And amazingly, modern presentations of tachyon theory actually allow tachyons to actually have real mass (Recami 1996).
It has been proposed that tachyons could be produced from high-energy particle collisions, and tachyon searches have been undertaken in cosmic rays. Cosmic rays hit the Earth's atmosphere with high energy (some of them with speed almost 99.99% of the speed of light) making several collisions with the molecules in the atmosphere. The particles made by this collision interact with the air, creating even more particles in a phenomenon known as a cosmic ray shower. In 1973, using a large collection of particle detectors, Philip Crough and Roger Clay identified a putative superluminal particle in an air shower, although this result has never been reproduced.
The article doesn't claim that superluminal communication (in the sense of relativity-violating information transfer) is taking place.
Your "of course" is tantalizing!
Are you implyinng that Einstein's life was quantumly entangled with Aspect's experiments? That had the experiment showed the opposite that Einstein would have lived?
Your theory, if it is such, is macabre. Yet it fits the general weirdness of QT.
In as much, as "already" is a meaningful-term QT-wise, the information is "already" at the other place. Or rather, "was" at. Was and is, that is. Or was. So be it.
"Quantum Leap" bump.
Seriously now, we don't actually HAVE unobserved cats, do we? They might like us to think so but a cat in a box is going to be measurable every time. They, and everything else macro, just don't go all at once into that unmeasured, unobserved state.
Only that little divine spark meets the radioactive atom at the OK Corral. The rest of the cat gives us the score later, no? The rest of the cat doesn't really change; in fact it stops changing, if it comes up dead.
Well if S. did have a cat I hope he called it Plato. ;)
Most of these guys are just capitalizing on the inability of the public (and more importantly, the guys who fund this research) to understand what they are doing, and what it proves or doesn't prove. They do an experiment, make grandiose claims, and no one challenges their conclusions. Since it's all academic anyway at this point, no one has any incentive to challenge it.
I'll agree that there is a mystery, but it's largely a mystery that they all have a financial and academic interest in perpetuating, and that raises the question of whether they've created the mystery themselves. They seem to focus on Einstein's 60 year old discussion of this topic. They debunk his logic experimentally, and then conclude that they are therefore correct in their logic. It just doesn't follow.
Of course, the reason why they focus on Einstein's logic is that none of them has the cajones to take up where Einstein left off, and make the case against "quantum weirdness." In order to do that, you've got to have a competing theory, and these guys tend to be focused on experimental physics rather than theoretical physics.
Nothing much is going to happen to advance the field of quantum physics, I don't think, until some brilliant theoretical physicist is able to come to a theory that explains what matter is. Right now, they don't even know what "spin" is, so how on earth can they make these sweeping claims about a "cat state" without even knowing what it means?
>>Kinda reminds me of trying to keep one's right leg spinning in a clockwise direction while drawing the number six in the air with one's right hand.
"Jellybeaners, jellybeaners, jellybeaners one and all..."
(Boomer reference: song we sang while simultaneously patting head and rubbing tummy.)
The 'cat state' is an unobserved state (if such there be). Once you peek in on the cat, the superposition of states collapses to a single state (so it is said)...unless you hold that each state in a superposition is just as 'real' as any other and that, at each observation, a system splits into separate, equally 'real' systems that continue to develop in complete separation from each other. This bewildering, branching view of 'reality' is called 'the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics' and is the preferred view of 'reality' of many quantum physicists.
Umm...do you know much about academia?
These guys have their conclusions challenged, often vociferously and viciously, by other scientists in the field, on a routine basis.
But the Earth is not rotating in an isolated position. When an external body is included, the rotation is only one way.
Yes but can an entire cat ever be in the cat state? I'm reminded of the difference between ordinary, incoherent light, and laser light. There's too much cat, made up of atoms all on different pages, so to speak, for the aggregate (cat) to be in a cat state.
Zeno would have loved this stuff.
By the way, does the cat's observation count for anything?
In my reality an empty box placed in a room with a live cat will soon have a live cat in it.
I doubt you'll find anyone who seriously argues Einstein's point in this day and age. Even when Einstein was alive, there were only two other physicists who seriously challenged the quantum mechanics theory, and they quickly dissolved into the ether, leaving Einstein's writings as the only real dissent from quantum mechanics.
At this point, quantum mechanics is considered to be gospel, which is ironic. And it's especially perplexing when one considers that it is inconsisent with relativity, which is also considered to be gospel. And even more perplexing when you consider that quantum mechanics has no explanation for the existence of gravity, yet clearly gravity exists.