Quantum mechanics is so mind-boggling that it has stumped even the greatest minds. In particular, Albert Einstein was so bothered by quantum mechanics that he never gave up in his efforts to discredit the theory. Physicists have spent several decades trying to develop an experiment that would definitively prove him wrong. A few weeks ago, a team from Delft University finally settled the score.
Einstein’s understanding of the universe describes most everyday experiences. Objects are only influenced by their immediate surroundings, and the properties of an object are determined before they are observed or measured. Quantum mechanics however, predicts that particles can become entangled. These entangled states can instantly influence each other no matter the distance.
The difficulty in designing a quantum entanglement experiment cannot be overstated. Entangled particles must be separated by a large distance, and measurements must be made before any other signal, including light, can travel the same distance. In addition to achieving the necessary distance and speed, the detectors involved must be precise and efficient enough to achieve a statistically sound result.
The Delft team showed what the physics community has understood for quite some time now; quantum entanglement is real. While no one in the physics community is surprised by the outcome of the experiment, there is still a great deal of excitement surrounding the results. Competitors from rival labs have even expressed congratulations, and are genuinely impressed by the team’s experiment.
The achievement demonstrates exactly how far physicists will push technological boundaries to prove a point. Developing new quantum technology is not easy, but will be essential for improving the state of cybersecurity and computing. The world only stands to gain from such tenacious physicists.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Peter Komar, a PhD Student in Physics, for providing his expertise and commentary on the subject.
“Quantum Weirdness Proved Real in First Loophole Free Experiment” New Scientist
“Sorry Einstein: Quantum Experiment Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ is Real” New York Times
“Experimental loophole-free violation of a Bell inequality using entangled electron spins separated by 1.3 km“
Managing correspondent: Karri DiPetrillo