Feeds

Spooky action at a distance is faster than light

Chinese boffins put the clock on information transfer between entangled particles

Build a business case: developing custom apps

As Einstein put it, it's impossible for anything – even information – to move faster than the speed of light. Yet the lower bound of that impossibility, the minimum speed at which entanglement can't possibly be transmitting information between two particles, appears to be around four orders of magnitude higher than c, the speed of light in a vacuum.

When describing his objections to quantum physics, one of Einstein's thought experiments was to consider the creation of a pair of entangled particles, which would retain the property of entanglement no matter how great the distance that might later separate them: the state of each entangled particle would somehow affect the other, no matter how great the distance separating them.

As far as Einsten was concerned, that was a no-no, since keeping entanglement intact demanded information transfer take place at greater than the speed of light – a violation of the general relativity.

So: since we know that entanglement exists (it's been observed and is the basis of so-called "quantum teleportation"), it's perfectly reasonable to ask at what rate the information transfer is violating general relativity?

According to this paper at Arxiv, once Earth's inertial frame of reference is taken into account, the lower bound of the speed of “spooky action” is 1.38 x 104 the speed of light in a vacuum.

The researchers say that to guarantee that what they were measuring was truly the result of entanglement – and not, for example, the outcome of coincidence – they needed to set at least one record, and observe a continuous violation of Bell's inequality for 12 hours.

Experimental setup for measuring the speed of spooky action

Source: University of Science and Technology of China

Since there needs to be enough separation between the two entangled photons as to enable a valid measurement of how long the entangled behaviour seems to pass from one particle to another, they also needed sufficient separation between the two ends of the experiment.

The researchers, from the Department of Modern Physics at the University of Science and Technology, China in Shanghai, separated their “Bob and Alice” photon detectors by 16 Km in the Qinghai Lake province: one device was placed at a scenic lookout, the other at a fish farm. Between the two is the photon source and its associated equipment.

To keep the experiment operation for 12 hours, the researchers say they created a tracking system ensuring that the signals weren't lost, and conducted the experiment at night-time so they didn't have to cope with daylight. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.