Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Experiment Proves ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ Is Real

Written by on October 29, 2015 in Sci-Tech, Science with 8 Comments
 Part of the laboratory setup for an experiment at Delft University of Technology, in which two diamonds were set 1.3 kilometers apart, entangled and then shared information. Credit Frank Auperle/Delft University of Technology

Part of the laboratory setup for an experiment at Delft University of Technology, in which two diamonds were set 1.3 kilometers apart, entangled and then shared information. Credit Frank Auperle/Delft University of Technology

By  | NYTimes.com

In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior.

Related Article: More Evidence To Support Quantum Theory’s ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’

The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as “locality,” which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated “spooky action at a distance,” and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.

In particular, Einstein derided the idea that separate particles could be “entangled” so completely that measuring one particle would instantaneously influence the other, regardless of the distance separating them.

Einstein was deeply unhappy with the uncertainty introduced by quantum theory and described its implications as akin to God’s playing dice.


But since the 1970s, a series of precise experiments by physicists are increasingly erasing doubt — alternative explanations that are referred to as loopholes — that two previously entangled particles, even if separated by the width of the universe, could instantly interact.

The new experiment, conducted by a group led by Ronald Hanson, a physicist at the Dutch university’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, and joined by scientists from Spain and England, is the strongest evidence yet to support the most fundamental claims of the theory of quantum mechanics about the existence of an odd world formed by a fabric of subatomic particles, where matter does not take form until it is observed and time runs backward as well as forward.

The researchers describe their experiment as a “loophole-free Bell test” in a reference to an experiment proposed in 1964 by the physicist John Stewart Bell as a way of proving that “spooky action at a distance” is real.

“These tests have been done since the late ’70s but always in the way that additional assumptions were needed,” Dr. Hanson said. “Now we have confirmed that there is spooky action at distance.”

According to the scientists, they have now ruled out all possible so-called hidden variables that would offer explanations of long-distance entanglement based on the laws of classical physics.

The Delft researchers were able to entangle two electrons separated by a distance of 1.3 kilometers, slightly less than a mile, and then share information between them. Physicists use the term “entanglement” to refer to pairs of particles that are generated in such a way that they cannot be described independently. The scientists placed two diamonds on opposite sides of the Delft University campus, 1.3 kilometers apart.

Each diamond contained a tiny trap for single electrons, which have a magnetic property called a “spin.” Pulses of microwave and laser energy are then used to entangle and measure the “spin” of the electrons.

Related Article: Einstein’s ‘Spooky’ Theory May Lead to Ultra-Secure Internet

The distance — with detectors set on opposite sides of the campus — ensured that information could not be exchanged by conventional means within the time it takes to do the measurement.

“I think this is a beautiful and ingenious experiment and it will help to push the entire field forward,” said David Kaiser, a physicist at M.I.T., who was not involved in the study. However, Dr. Kaiser, who is with another group of physicists who are preparing to perform an even more ambitious experiment next year that will soon measure light captured at the far edges of the universe, also said he did not think every scintilla of doubt had been erased by the Dutch experiment.

The tests take place in a mind-bending and peculiar world. According to quantum mechanics, particles do not take on formal properties until they are measured or observed in some way. Until then, they can exist simultaneously in two or more places. Once measured, however, they snap into a more classical reality, existing in only one place.

Beyond the immediate result, physicists noted that the experiment represented an advance in the understanding of a Lilliputian world that was once largely the province of theory. Quantum mechanics has already had a huge impact on modern technology and industry. For example, it is the foundation for modern computers and lasers.

“What I do find interesting is that the experimenters are learning how to manipulate quantum systems, and do experiments that are far beyond what was possible when I was starting in physics,” said Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford. “Things which were at best ‘thought experiments’ become possible, then routine. That is incredibly impressive.”

Related Article: Quantum Entanglement Verified: Why Space Is Just The Construct That Gives The Illusion Of Separate Objects

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8 Reader Comments

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  1. 10156114237840517@facebook.com' Malcolm Serra says:

    I’m not that kind

  2. 438288283024390@facebook.com' WendyJoy Smith says:

    error code

  3. 10156266032125397@facebook.com' Tim Pinto says:

    cant read this 🙁

  4. 846414435380494@facebook.com' Revolution de Mind says:

    IMO stuff like this are fantastic who agrees?

  5. 10153632157517033@facebook.com' Stacy Pereira says:

    Michael Pereira

  6. 10152993562137352@facebook.com' Fredrik Kongstein says:

    works fine and good stuff

  7. 1006032719459310@facebook.com' Llewellyn Love says:

    Fact is, if Einstein were still alive today with all the new discoveries made, his perspective would have been quite different compared to the time when he lived! So it is not really fair to say, sorry Einstein, or even to describe it this way!

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