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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quantum entanglement -- sending information through time

I remember something about the discovery of lasers. The impression was that such devices were large, expensive, and confined to physics labs. Not only that, but they had to do with experimental manipulation of light. How could such a phenomenon be practical? How things have changed! This computer has a laser in its CD/DVD reader/writer, and laser use is very common in North America. There are almost certainly more functioning lasers in North America than there are people in the US, Mexico and Canada.

Perhaps the same development and harnessing of technology will take place concerning quantum entanglement. What is quantum entanglement? The simple explanation is that it means that two particles, separated by large distances, and not physically connected, can, nonetheless, be connected. (See my previous post on the strangeness of quantum physics, in other ways.) This is, I believe, a truthful explanation, as far as it goes, but it does not go very far in explaining what quantum entanglement is all about. I haven't found any simple explanations of quantum entanglement. There is a Wikipedia article on the subject, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an article, too. Neither is exactly simple.

The applications of quantum entanglement seem to be, eventually, these: communication over long distances, more efficient storage of information. A recent article in Wired indicates that there may be another, even weirder application, namely communication with the past or the present. Not time travel. (The Wired article's explanation of quantum entanglement is intermediate between my sentence, in the previous paragraph, and the Wikipedia.)

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

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Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I hope you are a real person.