A team of scientists with the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) announced their groundbreaking experiment proved beyond reasonable doubt that Einstein was in fact wrong about one of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics. Their experiment proves that “spooky action at a distance” is real.
With the certainty that entanglement exists, it is notably an innate property of the universe. Entanglement is the ability of particles to affect each other regardless of distance. Groups or pairs of entangled particles cannot be described independently from one another. By measuring a specific property (such as velocity) of a single particle, you subsequently affect all other entangled particles.
Einstein wasn’t alone in this belief that the phenomenon was paradoxical however. Most scientists believed it would allow for data to be exchanged instantly across vast distances. Calling it “spooky action at a distance,” Einstein claimed that there would be a way to reproduce the phenomenon with classical physics. Believing there were hidden variables, his theory stated that quantum mechanics were quite predictable.
Classical physics believe that the universe may be understood, modeled and even predicted with the fundamental laws of physics. The deterministic view is in stark contrast to the reality that quantum mechanics is probabilistic. It actually places limits on the amount of understanding one has of a system. There are extensive peculiarities which we simply wouldn’t experience in daily life.
During an investigation of the alleged paradox in 1964, physicist John Stewart Bell formulated a theorem. Referred to as Bell Theorem, it states that quantum mechanics cannot be explained with deterministic theory. The theorem’s validity has been confirmed with a number of experiments over the decades. However, it wasn’t until now that scientists were absolutely certain of it.
NIST’s research illustrates that quantum mechanics aren’t explained with deterministic theory. By creating pairs of entangled photons and separating them into two distant rooms, the settings of their apparatus were able to measure the polarization of a randomly chosen proton. It ensured that even if unknown effects were present, these did not come from the measurements themselves.
Expected to be published with Physical Review Letters soon, the photons which were observed by these scientists were perfectly entangled. Probability was at an estimated 1 in 170 million. This is beyond the limit required in physics to announce a discovery. In a statement from the lead author of the study, Dr. Krister Shalm said, “You can’t prove quantum mechanics, but local realism, or hidden local action, is incompatible with our experiment. Our results agree with what quantum mechanics predicts about the spooky actions shared by entangled particles.”
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