Friday, April 10, 2015
Sentient choice does matter
The following post was prompted by the article in NBCNEWS.com and linked below.
I have made a lot of noise in my posts here in the Cosmolosophy Blog about the unique aspects of sentient choice as it relates to the entirety, and what makes up the entirety. The choices we make matter as I have said many times before.
A new experiment done by a team lead by Howard Wiseman, director of Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, has given a good deal more credence to that notion.
I quote NBC's abbreviated rendition of the original "Live Science" piece in its entirety below. Before you go there, however, I want to make something quite clear.
I would just hope that physicists everywhere would take this notion to heart in a philosophical sense as well as a practical one. Especially when one considers their approach to looking into the deeper aspects of what constitutes matter. Bashing away with particle accelerators at it seems wrong to me both because of the risk such inputs might have to the ultimate of complex systems, but also because when we choose violence it should be under the constraints of a good deal of moral consideration.
I know that the universe itself does high energy interactions all of the time, but that is via the natural progression of interactions since inflation first began. When we choose to do it it is a whole different ball game, as I think ought to be quite clear now.
As the NBC article states:
“The phenomenon was outside of contemporary experience in physics and seemed to violate the theory of relativity, which posits that the speed of light is an absolute limit on how fast any information can travel. Einstein proposed that the particle isn't in a superposition state, or two places at once; but rather it always has a "true" location, and people just couldn't see it.
The phenomenon is demonstrated with a thought experiment in which a light beam is split, with one half going to Alice and the other to Bob. Alice then indicates if she detected a photon and if so what state it is in — it might be the phase of the wave packet that describes the photon. Mathematically, though, the photon is in a state of "superposition," meaning it is in two (or more) places at once. Its wave function, a mathematical formula that describes the particle, seems to show the photon has no definite position.
"Alice's measurement collapses the superposition," meaning the photons are in one place or another, but not both, Howard Wiseman, director of Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics, who led the experiment, told Live Science. If Alice sees a photon, that means the quantum state of the light particle in Bob's lab collapses to a so-called zero-photon state, meaning no photon. But if she doesn't see a photon, Bob's particle collapses to a one-photon state, he said.
"Does this seem reasonable to you? I hope not, because Einstein certainly didn't think it was reasonable. He thought it was crazy," he added, referring to the fact that Alice's measurement looked like it was dictating Bob's.
The paradox was partially resolved years later, when experiments showed that even though the interaction between two quantum particles happens faster than light (it appears instantaneous), there is no way to use that phenomenon to send information, so there's no possibility of faster-than-light signals.
The team at Griffith, though, wanted to go a step further and show that the collapsing wave function — the process of Alice "choosing" a measurement and affecting Bob's detection — is actually happening. And while other experiments have shown entanglement with two particles, the new study entangles a photon with itself.
To do this they fired a beam of photons at a splitter, so half of the light was transmitted and half was reflected. The transmitted light went to one lab and the reflected light went to the other. (These were "Alice" and "Bob" of the thought experiment.)
The light was transmitted as a single photon at a time, so the photon was split in two. Before the photon was measured, it existed in a superposition state.
One lab (Alice) used a laser as a reference, to measure the phase of the photon. If one thinks of light as a repeating sine wave, phase is the angle one is measuring, from 0 to 180 degrees. When Alice changed the angle of her reference laser, she got varying measurements of the photon: Either her photon was in a certain phase or it wasn't present at all.
Then the other lab (or Bob) looked at their photons and found the photons were anti-correlated with Alice — if she saw a photon he did not, and vice versa. The state of Bob's photon depended on what Alice measured. But in classic physics that shouldn't happen; rather, the two particles should be independent of one another.
This is a condensed version of an article that appeared on LiveScience. Read the entire story here. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook &Google+.”