So, recipe Keyser comes across a post called “Quantum paradox directly observed — a milestone in quantum mechanics.” Okay, find thinks Keyser to himself, Keyser’ll bite. Keyser has previously discussed his dislike of abstract theorizing in general and his deeply held skepticism about theories involving little bits of stuff no one has ever seen, but this sounds interesting. A “mile stone,” huh?
In quantum mechanics, a vanguard of physics where science often merges into philosophy, much of our understanding is based on conjecture and probabilities, but a group of researchers in Japan has moved one of the fundamental paradoxes in quantum mechanics into the lab for experimentation and observed some of the ‘spooky action of quantum mechanics’ directly.
Hardy’s Paradox, the axiom that we cannot make inferences about past events that haven’t been directly observed while also acknowledging that the very act of observation affects the reality we seek to unearth, poses a conundrum that quantum physicists have sought to overcome for decades. How do you observe quantum mechanics, atomic and sub-atomic systems that are so small-scale they cannot be described in classical terms, when the act of looking at them changes them permanently?
In a journal paper published in the New Journal of Physics…, the research group explains how they used a measurement technique that has an almost imperceptible impact on the experiment which allows the researchers to compile objectively provable results at sub-atomic scales.
The experiment, based on Lucien Hardy’s thought experiment, which follows the paths of two photons using interferometers, instruments that can be used to interfere photons together, is believed to throw up contradictory results that do not conform to our classical understanding of reality. Although Hardy’s Paradox is rarely refuted, it was only a thought experiment until recently.
Using an entangled pair of photons and an original but complicated method of weak measurement that does not interfere with the path of the photons, a significant step towards harnessing the reality of quantum mechanics has been taken by these researchers in Japan.
As the researchers write, “Unlike Hardy’s original argument, our demonstration reveals the paradox by observation, rather than inference. We believe the demonstrated joint weak measurement is useful not only for exploiting fundamental quantum physics, but also for various applications such as quantum metrology and quantum information technology.”
Well, if this is what passes for a milestone in the world of quantum mechanics, Keyser would hate to see one of their kidney stones.
Does anyone have a clue what in the fuck these people have claimed to have “seen,” much less what it’s supposed to mean?
Well, it would seem this Hardy guy must be a total loser, in that he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry (and anybody who’s anybody has to have one, right?). Anyway, a bit of investigation finds that this “big” discovery actually relates to the “ERP paradox,” which does in fact exist since there is a Wikipedia entry for it. (If anyone’s curious, here’s a “sketch” of Hardy’s Hooey).
Turns out that the ERP stands for the initials of Einstein and two other clowns who must in exist because they have Wikipedia entries but outside out that Keyser’s never heard of them, so they don’t exist (as the theory holds). So what did these guys get all paradoxical about?
If Keyser understands correctly (which is perhaps a dubious proposition, but let’s stick with the paradox), quantum physics holds that any old shit is happening until somebody actually sees it. That is, things are both happening and not happening until a determination is made by observation, at which point everything is no longer happening and only what was seen “happened.” Who knows, maybe the stock market is gaining a million points and all is well? Oh, shit, shouldn’t have looked at Bloomberg. Turns out to be up a piddly 127 pts. No luck there. Anyway, this is why that cat locked up in the box is both dead and alive until some nasty German like Heisenberg checks, at which point the poor pussy’s luck also runs out and it’s dead.
So, the old question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s there to hear, does it make a sound? is misguided. If no one’s there, it doesn’t matter. It makes the sound and doesn’t until someone hears.
Okay, everyone with Keyser (or at least the quantum krazies) so far?
Good. So, along comes Einstein, who famously didn’t like this sort of logic on the a priori grounds that God would not have been happy in Las Vegas, and he and his obscure buddies think to themselves, let’s excogitate a situation and see if we can’t fuck with the heads of these quantifiers a bit. If, say the head fuckers, you’ve got two somethingtrons floating away in opposite directions from a somethingelsetron, then by this quanto-krap they’re all over the fucking place until guy-in-lab-coat spots ’em with his magnifying glass. So far so good? Yes, say the mechanical quanters. Well, say the ERP squad, let’s measure one of those somethingtrons. Turns out if you do that, you can figure out what the other somethingtron is doing, so we’ve pinned that fucker down too, right? Yeah, say the quantrelles. Hah! shouts Einstein et al. We didn’t see the other one, did we? We just inferred (or something) where it was. So it turns out you don’t actually have to see the goddamned thing to “fix it,” and you losers are just blowing smoke up my Swiss ass. Quantum force: Shit, Max, why didn’t you see that coming? Planck: Hey, Einstein wasn’t an asshole until I heard him, so how was I supposed to know?
Does anyone really believe this krap ? Truth be told, even on internal grounds, Keyser gets lost at the “so we know what the other one is doing” stage – how does the behavior of one somethingtron allow you to know what the other one is up to? Anyway, we’ll set that objection aside, as Max and his buddies don’t retort with that question, so presumably they concur in the assumption. In any event, surely there’s more plausibility to figuring out the proverbial number of angels on the head of a pin (at least Keyser can see the pin and the lack of angels).
Anyhoo, even if we buy this whole background, what the fuck did those Japanese guys prove? “…our demonstration reveals the paradox by observation, rather than inference. We believe the demonstrated joint weak measurement is useful not only for exploiting fundamental quantum physics, but also for various applications such as quantum metrology and quantum information technology.”
Great. Well, the next time Keyser goes to the deli counter at Save-On and wants to buy a quarter pound of quantums (thin sliced please!), he’ll be glad to know that the quantum metrology will be in place to serve him.
As long as someone behind the counter has seen him.