Category Archives: atom

Quantum Weirdness – A Matter of Relativity? Part 5

Quantum Weirdness

A Matter of Relativity? 

Copyright 2006/2007 James A. Tabb

Part 5: Entangled Particles 

Selecting which atom we use with careful attention to its excitation states can create entangled particles. Some atoms emit two photons at a time or very closely together, one in one direction, the other in the opposite direction. These photons also have a property that one spins or is polarized in one direction and the other always spins or is polarized at right angles to the first. They come in pairs such that if we conduct an experiment on one to determine its orientation, the other’s orientation becomes known at once. They are “entangled”.

EPR image

Figure 10 – Entangled Particles  

All of this was involved in a famous dispute between Einstein and Bohr where Einstein devised a series of thought experiments to prove quantum measurement theory defective and Bohr devised answers. The weirdness, if you want to call it that, is the premise that the act of measurement of one actually defines both of them and so one might be thousands of miles away when you measure the first and the other instantly is converted, regardless of the distance between them, to the complement of the first.  

Action-at-a-distance that occurs faster than the speed of light?  Some would argue (me for instance) that this is more of a hat trick, not unlike where a machine randomly puts a quarter under one hat or the other, and always a nickel under a second one.  You don’t know in advance which contains which.  Does the discovery that one hat has a quarter actually change the other into a nickel or was it always that way?  Some would say that since it is impossible to know what is under each hat, the discovery of the quarter was determined by the act of measuring (lifting the hat) and the other coin only became a nickel at that instant.   Suppose one hat is in Chicago and the other in Paris.  Is this action at a distance? It is easy to say that the measurement of the first particle only uncovers the true nature of the first particle and the deduction of the nature of the second particle is not a case of weirdness at all.   They were that way at the start. However, this is a hotly debated subject and many consider this a real effect and a real problem.  That is, they consider the particles (which are called Einstein‑‑ Podolsky‑Rosen (EPR) pairs) to have a happy-go-lucky existence in which the properties are undetermined until measured.   Measure the polarization of one – and the second instantly takes the other polarization.A useful feature of entangled particles is the notion that you could encrypt data using these particles such that if anyone attempted to intercept and read them somewhere in their path, the act of reading would destroy the message.

So there you have it – Weird behavior at a distance, maybe across the universe.   Or is it a matter of relativity?

I wish to suggest this: entangled particles are entangled at the time of emission and, from the relativistic perspective, they are still attached together at the point of emission until the time that one or the other is disturbed or destroyed, however far that is. Both ends of their flights are stapled together from the moment of their creation by relativistic space distortion. They both live in a go-splat world where time stands still and everything in their path is zero distance away and zero time lapse away due to the relativistic foreshortening of paths and time distortions to zero. In their time and distance collapsed world, if you can wiggle one, the other knows about it because they are both still stuck against their common emission point at one end until destroyed at the other.   There can be “real world” time elapsed during flight (from our perspective) but the photon is running on null time – relativistic zero time and both are still attached to a common point with both ends separated by zero distance and zero time, even if we measure it at tens of meters and dozens of nanoseconds. 

In Summary – Not So Weird After All

Photons and other particles that travel at c have paths that are effectively zero length and time spans that are of zero duration.   This applies to the path length and lifetime of the particle due to relativistic space time warping at c.   No matter how we measure the time and distance a particle travels in a real-world time frame, the particle has a simultaneous, instantaneous path and duration due to the warping of the space and time at c.

We measure the particle in flight at about a nanosecond a foot.   No matter.  The photon gets there instantaneously – no time elapses for the photon – no ageing takes place.  That means no matter how many mirrors or detectors we flip into or out of a path during our calculated flight time, the photon, traveling at c, transverses the entire path in zero time over zero distance.  Our perspectives are that different.   Mirrors or detectors that are in the path at the time it reaches a certain point by our measurement, were experienced by the particle at the instant it was emitted.   So it knows about it “in advance” due to the space time warp factor.   It does transverse the experiment, but cannot be fooled as it knows the entire path the instant it is created. 

Suppose a distant exploding star emits a photon that arrives at our telescope 4 billion years later (by our normal world calculation).  The photon may pass around lensing galaxies on both sides at once because the entire path, including the incredible width of the galaxies, is of virtually zero width and zero depth to the photon which is traveling at c.   The detector’s position, forward of a focal point or behind it, is also experienced by the photon during that same zero path, zero lifetime defining moment of creation, life, and death.  All due to the incredible time and distance warp at c.  So we think it is weird that the change in our detector, at or behind the focal point seems to affect the chosen path of the photon around the distant lensing galaxy.   Not to the photon.  It knew all along, since “all along” was an instantaneous null time and null distance, warped together.

Photons moving through a double slit experiment have all the elements in its path effectively (although not actually) plastered to its nose and all the elements have zero width and zero depth to the photon during its lifetime.   From our perspective, we consider it moving through the experiment, encountering edges, slits, possibly mirrors or detectors.   Whatever we throw in its path, the photon experiences it as if it were there from the moment of its creation because that is the only moment it has.   All because it lives in a relativistic go-splat world.

Photons moving through crystals and reversed crystals see all the paths simultaneously and its entire flight path as one event – all happening simultaneously.   All open paths are valid because they are essentially congruent, allowing the photons to retain their polarity if there are paths that maintain its ability recombine at the far end.  If any path is broken by a detector when it would pass by in our real world measurement system, then it is encountered in its relativistic world during its null time existence.

Quantum Weirdness Is a Matter of Relativity! 

James A. Tabb

Marietta, Georgia

Originally published among friends February 6, 2006