Feeds

MIT wants quasars to help put free will to rest

Ringing the Bell on inequality

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The last of three loopholes held to remain in Bell's Theorem, “setting independence”, is under the spotlight with an MIT research group saying that quasars could be used as random number generators and help prove* the validity of quantum mechanics.

(*The Register is well aware that quantum mechanics has withstood the most rigorous tests science has been able to throw at it: there remains, however, a theoretical question that's been elusive.)

Bell's work presents one of the longest-standing tests for the validity of quantum mechanics. In a classical universe, he explained, there is a limit to the correlation between entangled particles; hence, if scientists can demonstrate non-locality, their experiments support quantum mechanics.

Enter “setting independence”, also given the shorthand “free will”: the idea that someone attempting an experiment testing quantum mechanics is unable to act completely independently of the system they're trying to measure.

To put this in the form of a question: in measuring polarisation as the basis for testing the entanglement of two photons, how can the researcher guarantee that the system they're trying to test isn't somehow influencing the instrument settings they're using for the test?

And as MIT explains here, that could create an experimental bias in favour of quantum physics.

MIT Department of Physics professor David Kaiser, postdoc Andrew Friedman, and Jason Gallicchio from the University of Chicago, believe they've come up with a scheme that would guarantee the independence of their settings: base the experiment on quasars that are so far apart, they cannot possibly have any “causal contact” in the last 14 billion years.

This means that a random characteristic of each quasar can be proven to be completely independent.

For example: having generated a pair of entangled particles, the researcher needs to work out what characteristic is to be tested for each of them. Instead of (say) tossing a coin to make the decision for each particle, a telescopic observation of a very distant quasar would be used instead.

“In other words, quasar A determines the settings to detect particle A, and quasar B sets the detector for particle B,” MIT states. “If, after multiple measurements with this experimental setup, scientists found that the measurements of the particles were correlated more than predicted by the laws of classical physics, Kaiser says, then the universe as we see it must be based instead on quantum mechanics.”

The researchers believe that experiments could be designed using today's technology – which means that the last “nonlocality” loophole may be on the way to getting a test. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.