Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox

“In 1935 Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen (EPR) wrote a remarkable paper which in the last twenty years has become increasingly a center of controversy. EPR showed, using the laws of quantum mechanics and relativity, that it is possible to determine the momentum or position of an electron without disturbing it if the electron is correlated with another electron. ‘Correlation’ means that the two electrons have passed or originated close to each other and have affected one another through electromagnetic interaction, although they may in the future have moved arbitrarily far from each other. Another one of the pioneers in the new physics, David Bohm, was later able to show that the EPR paradox applies to other quantum objects, such as photons and neutrons. Therefore, sometimes Bohm’s name is added to the EPR paradox and it is called the EPRB paradox. In Bohm’s terminology, a quantum object is any object whose mass is sufficiently small that it will be significantly affected by the quantum potential.

Quantum mechanics predicts that we cannot measure the position or momentum of a quantum object without disturbing it. EPRB predicts that if we have two quantum objects which have at some time in the past been correlated in a special way in accordance with quantum theory, e.g., by originating at a common source, and which have up to the present not been disturbed even though one might have moved to the moon and the other to Mars, we can precisely and instantaneously measure the position or momentum of the object on Mars by measuring the position or momentum of the object on the moon. The object on the moon is disturbed by the measurement, but not the object on Mars, unless relativity is violated and information is transmitted to the object on Mars much faster than the speed of light. At first, this does not seem so astounding. However, the implications are very deep.

One of the fundamental postulates of quantum mechanics is that quantum objects have a probability distribution of the states (includes positions) in which they can be. Until we observe them they are in none of those states, but potentially in all of them. This is taken to be literally true. It is not that the quantum object is in a particular state, and that we do not know what it is until we find out what it is: it is literally not in any of the states until it is observed. Very complex experiments have shown this to be true. A bizarre consequence of this is that quantum objects can be seen either as waves or as particles depending on how we observe them, but not as both simultaneously (Bohr’s principle of complementarity). For this reason some physicists, starting with mathematical genius John von Neumann and Nobelist Eugene Wigner, have proposed that the nature and behavior of a quantum object are determined by human consciousness. There is no absolute separation between the observer and the object observed.

Starting in 1964 a remarkable young physicist, John Stewart Bell, showed that if the EPRB paradox turned out to be true, then the hidden variables which Einstein had been looking for were ‘nonlocal.’ The concept of ‘locality’ is that of things tied together by time and space and subject to the speed of light for interactions. When we communicate by radio waves, for example, that is a local phenomenon that propagates at the speed of light even if we are on earth communicating with a satellite near Uranus. Nonlocal interactions can occur simultaneously over vast distances, contrary to relativity, which says information cannot be transferred at speeds higher than the speed of light. It may also be possible to have the causes occur after the effects. Nonlocality is far more bizarre than the hidden variables subject to relativistic laws that either Einstein or his antagonists imagined. Einstein believed all interactions were local. Bohr and the Copenhagen school resolved the paradox by stating that the correlated particles would both be disturbed instantly by a measurement on one of them. This is in fact what has been shown to happen.

Starting with a series of experiments performed by Alain Aspect and his colleagues in France in 1982, there is now very strong, objective, experimental evidence that there are nonlocal, hidden variables at work in the EPRB, which turned out as EPRB predicted, but not how they predicted. Einstein would have been even more shocked by the notion of nonlocal, hidden variables than he was by the basic nondeterminism of quantum mechanics, although not as spiritually disturbed once he found out the implications of the nonlocal interactions of the human mind and the local universe. A better way of seeing the situation is that both Einstein and Bohr were right and both were wrong. Quantum Mechanics correctly describes the universe as an integrated whole, but there are nonlocal hidden variables tied to consciousness at work in all quantum phenomena.

One interpretation of the data – and there are other interpretations – is that when one quantum object of a correlated pair is observed, what is happening is that there is an instantaneous, synchronized communication of this information to anyone who would observe the second quantum object, so that the two observations would be correlated as expected; or if there is only one observer, his one observation makes the probability state wave collapse for all correlated objects simultaneously so that all observations will remain correlated even if they are all made by the one observer at different levels. In other words the communication is not between the correlated quantum objects, which are subject to the laws of relativity, but instantaneously and nonlocally (outside of our time and space) between the observers or potential observers of the quantum objects. The exchange of quantum information mind-to-mind or between one mind and all quantum objects is not subject to relativity, the speed of light, or time-bound causality. It is a type of telepathy, but of a special kind: namely, it is unconscious when it occurs, and it works only for quantum phenomena. The hidden variables are in a special quantum space which incorporates our individual consciousness. Furthermore, this quantum space exists outside of the time and space of our universe, and the transfer of information can occur instantaneously within this space. When this occurs it can alter objective reality in our universe. Corollaries: (1) A single thought can have the power to change the entire physical universe; (2) language is, in part, a quantum phenomenon. Additional experimental evidence supports this interpretation of the EPRB experiments.”