“Spooky actions at a distance” are actually happening


Clock3 by Mayank Chhaya*

Trying to make sense out of quantum entanglement in the midst of a migraine attack is nearly lethal. However, it seems to me that the only way to understand quantum entanglement is via a migraine attack. Having lived with migraines of varying ferocity for almost my entire life, I can now conclude that they give you such dazzling clarity about concepts of physics as is not possible in a normal state.

I am thinking of quantum entanglement this morning because it is being reported that a team of physicists at the Netherlands’ Kavli Institute of Nanoscience has been successfully able to teleport information between two quantum bits separated by 3 meters. As I mentioned, I would not have been able to comprehend any of this in a normal state without a migraine attack. Since I am going through one right now I am able to make much better sense of this finding for myself than I normally would have. Think of migraine as a lens that sharpens the information that goes through it. I call it migraine lensing. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can explain to you what stands fully explained to me right now.

Teleportation is an idea familiar to us as part of ‘Star Trek’ folklore and other science fiction stories. What the Kavli scientists are reporting is not about teleporting actual people such as Captain James Tiberius Kirk or Mr. Spock (I am being ironic by calling them actual people). It is about teleporting information between two points, which would constitute the fundamentals of the much talked about quantum computing. From Isaac Newton’s precisely deterministic universe to Albert Einstein’s more subtle and nuanced universe to rather bizarrely unpredictable quantum universe there are several layers of the physics of our universe. Just as Newton might have found weird and bizarre Einstein’s assertion that there is no single universal clock or time or what is now here is something else a billion light years away, Einstein found the quantum world equally weird and bizarre. Responding to the idea of quantum mechanics he famously said,  "physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance." The idea that two particles separated by a massive, unimaginable distance can affect each other or in a way are entangled as memorably described by Erwin Schrodinger, for want of a better expression, freaked Einstein out. You should bear in mind is that Einstein’s freaking out is not like an ordinary mortal’s freaking out. It is based on some profound objections. Unraveling Einstein’s freaking out can earn you a PhD in physics.

So far computing is in the realm of classical bits, meaning information getting transferred in the two values of 0 and 1. Quantum computing, in contrast, allows for information to be transferred in many different values through what is known as quantum bits or qubits. Quantum computing is supposed to be way more reliable than classical computing, the way it is done now.It is in this context that what the Kavli scientists are reporting is extraordinary. They say they have been able to teleport information absolutely accurately, meaning without losing any data. From the 3 meter transfer, they now propose to do it over a distance of over one kilometer and eventually over longer distances. This is their way of showing that quantum entanglement works, something that completely defies Einstein’s idea of what he called “spooky actions at a distance.”

The above description was written by me in a span of about ten minutes under the dazzling clarity created by my migraine attack. As it begins to wear off because of a pain killer and as I return to my normal state, that comprehension is beginning to fade. So I might as well end it here. If you do not understand what I have said here, well it is just too bad. Not everything is for everyone. Either that or go get a migraine.

* This fantastic digital painting by me can be bought at my site http://www.globalcontentnow.com/#!digital-art/c23v5

P.S.: The actual abstract from the team’s paper reads like this:”Realizing robust quantum information transfer between long-lived qubit registers is a key challenge for quantum information science and technology. Here, we demonstrate unconditional teleportation of arbitrary quantum states between diamond spin qubits separated by 3 m. We prepare the teleporter through photon-mediated heralded entanglement between two distant electron spins and subsequently encode the source qubit in a single nuclear spin. By realizing a fully deterministic Bell-state measurement combined with real-time feed-forward quantum teleportation is achieved upon each attempt with an average state fidelity exceeding the classical limit. These results establish diamond spin qubits as a prime candidate for the realization of quantum networks for quantum communication and network-based quantum computing.”


About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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