Wednesday, November 3, 2010

entanglement

Entanglement is interesting. Within quantum physics, entanglement is where, "two particles are inextricably linked so that measuring a property of one instantly reveals information about the other, no matter how far apart the two particles are." Many experiments have confrimed this and as science demands repeatable experiments to confirm theory it also wants to test the theory by trying to prove it wrong. One of the implausable explanations offered is that somehow the monitoring machines influence the results - so what do you do? Put the machines far enough away that the results are known before any light (or communication using light speed as it's fastest proxy) can reach the measuring device. This experiment has been completed and the results have confirmed that the machines are not involved. The experimenters explain it, from Sciencenews,
"The Austrian team used laboratories on the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa. One station, on the island of La Palma, had both a source of entangled photons and, about 1 kilometer away, a photon detector hooked up to a random number generator that told the instrument what kind of polarization to look for. A second photon detector, also hooked up to a random number generator, was located on the island of Tenerife, 144 kilometers away from the source on La Palma.
This setup prevented any conspiracy between the photon emitter and either of the detectors. Even the 1-kilometer distance was far enough to guarantee that a signal traveling at light speed between the photon emitter and the detector would arrive too late to affect the experiment’s outcome.
Pairs of entangled photons always had correlated polarizations at both detectors."
This process of experimentally testing an unlikely hypothesis to tick it off, close the loophole and tighten the theory is an laudable aspect of science.

As you may imagine there are many pathways to go with a post like this. I could, for instance, talk about maori knowledge systems and how they also have been developed by testing and discarding against theory. Or I could talk about this concept of entanglement and how this concept fits in with a connective universe but as Brian Greene says in "The fabric of the universe" "While I like the sentiment, such gushy talk is loose and overstated." and I do have a tendancy to go that way. I thought about using entanglement as a metaphor for the maori party but I've got a bit of maori party fatigue. So I'll just let the post stand as an example of the mysteries of this world we all inhabit.

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