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Post Physics: Spooky Quantum Behavior (Richard Hancock, US)
Created by John Eipper on 05/08/09 10:27 PM - physics-spooky-quantum-behavior-richard-hancock-us

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Physics: Spooky Quantum Behavior (Richard Hancock, US) (John Eipper, USA, 05/08/09 10:27 pm)

Richard Hancock writes: Gautam Naik writes in the WSJ of May 8 of two particles that seem to communicate with each other instantly even when they are billions of miles apart. When two photons get "entangled" they behave like a joint entity even when they are miles apart. If the spin of one part changes, the spin of the other instantly changes too. Some philosophers see quantum phenomena as a sign of far greater unknown forces at work and it bolsters their view that a spiritual dimension exists. Einstein dismissed this as impossible "spooky action at a distance," arguing that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. In rejecting this idea he said that God doesn't play dice with the universe. Neils Bohr, a proponent of quantum uncertainty, replied, "Quit telling God what to do." Dr. Gisin and colleagues at Geneva University described how they had entangled a pair of photons in their lab and fired them along fiber-optic cables to two Swiss villages some 11 miles apart. When one photon switched to a slightly higher energy level, its twin instantly switched to a slightly lower one. The sum of the energy stayed constant, proving that the photons remained entangled. The team couldn't detect any time differences in the changes. Dr. Gisin stated that, "If there was communication, it would have to have been at least 10,000 times the speed of light." In the electronic transfer of money between banks, there is a danger that the messages may be intercepted and read by an eavesdropper. Quantum physics permits a more sophisticated approach. The messages can now be encoded by using the properties of photons, like spin. If someone intercepts a photon-based message, the spins change. The receiver then knows the key has been compromised. MagiQ Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. sells this technology to banks and companies. Dr. Gisin is a founder of ID Quantique SA in Switzerland. This company uses similar encryption to enable on-line lottery and poker firms to safely communicate winning numbers and winning hands. Swiss federal election results were sent in a similar way. Bernard d'Espagnat, an 87-year-old Frenchman, won the $1.5 million Templeton prize in March for affirming "life's spiritual dimension." D'Espagnat's big idea is that science can only probe so far into what is real, and there's a "veiled reality" that will always elude us. Richard Hancock comments: I have always felt that some scientists who believe that science was on the verge of discovering all of the the Universe's secrets were displaying the ultimate arrogance. While my experience with physics is limited to two one-semester undergraduate courses, the mysteries of quantum physics are very exciting to me. In the words of an old Mexican song, "Dios nunca muere." (God never dies.) -- For information about the World Association of International Studies (WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/ John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA --

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