Breakthrough: Scientists describe the weird world of quantum surrealism

Breakthrough: Scientists describe the weird world of quantum surrealism

Particles act as balls on a billiard table, scientists found.

The weirdness of quantum mechanics is starting to get a bit clearer, as scientists have found that particles appear to act like balls on a billiards table.

New research indicates that particles at the quantum level behave not as probabilistic “smears,” but in a “surrealistic” fashion, according to a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research statement.

CIFAR Senior Fellow Aephraim Steinberg of the University of Toronto and his colleagues tracked the trajectories of photons as they traveled through one of two slits onto a screen, and observed the influence of another photon after the first photon became entangled with it. For a long time now, scientists have been unable to describe entangled photons realistically. The uncertainty principle indicates we can’t know the particle’s position and its momentum with certainty, so we have to estimate the probability of how the particles are moving, characterized more by a probabilistic smear than a defined trajectory. Also, when people interact with the quantum system by merely observing it, they alter it, so we can never predict where a photon will go when fired at a screen, indicating that there is no real trajectory between the source of liht and the screen, and all we can do is calculate the odds of a photon being in one place at one time.

But the De Broglie-Bohm theory says that photons do actually have real trajectories. In 2011, Steinberg wanted to demonstrate this, showing that trajectories would act like balls flying through the air if the measurements were so weak they wouldn’t disturb the photons. Critics countered that two particles can become entangled, and therefore measurement of one affects another. So Steinberg in the latest experiment showed that the supposedly incorrect predictions of trajectories in entangled photons were a consequence of where they were measured, and considering both particles together caused consistency in the measurements.

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