Scientists Prove Entangled Particle Can Be in Two Places at Once

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 - 10:17AM
Weird Science
Physics
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 - 10:17AM
Scientists Prove Entangled Particle Can Be in Two Places at Once
Many quantum theories sound completely paradoxical, and entanglement is no exception. According to this "spooky" theory, a particle can be split in two places at once until one of the positions is observed, at which point the wave function collapses and the particle is only in that position. This may sound outlandish, but Japanese and Australian scientists believe that they have provided experimental evidence that particles can, in fact, be in two places at once.



According to quantum entanglement, before it's observed, a particle is in a state of "superposition," or being in one or more places at once. Its wave function, or a formula that describes the quantum state of a particle, shows that it has no definite position. Then, once it's observed in one position, it has an effect over an arbitrary amount of distance and determines what an observer would see at another position. "Measurement collapses the superposition," study leader Howard Wiseman told Live Science

"Does this seem reasonable to you? I hope not, because Einstein certainly didn't think it was reasonable. He thought it was crazy," said Wiseman.

Albert Einstein is credited with first proposing this theory, which he called "spooky action at a distance," in the 1930's, although funnily enough, he didn't actually believe it was possible. It was a natural extrapolation of his theories, but he couldn't reconcile it with the fact that it seemed to require faster-than-light communication between the two positions at the time that one of them is observed, which is predicted to be impossible by his theory of relativity.

Scientists Prove Entangled Particles Can Be in Two Places at Once

[Credit: Live Science]



The researchers from Tokyo University and Griffith University believe that they've proven Einstein wrong, however. They fired a beam of photons through a photon-splitter, causing half of the photons to be transmitted and half to be reflected. By ensuring that the photons went through the splitter one at a time, they ensured that the individual particles were in a superposition state. They measured the photons' position with a laser, and they found that the observed positions were anti-correlated at each observation point. So if one lab observed a photon, the other lab wouldn't, and so on.

Not only does this help us understand the enigma of quantum mechanics, but it could have practical applications in the future, such as quantum computing or stealthy communication. "Our experiment is a more rigorous test of the properties of such states than has ever been done before," said Wiseman. "This could be useful for communicating secrets when not all the parties are trusted."
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