Quantum Spookiness Spreads

Ok, the title should really read: Our Awareness Of Quantum Spookiness Spreads but the shorter one works better on a number of levels 🙂

Quantum Spookiness, what is that?
Quantum Mechanics has been called the most successful physics theory ever because it’s ‘predictions’ always work out when tested. It’s also the most perplexing because so much of it is counter intuitive – it flies in the face of how we think the world works. And when I say that I mean how our scientific understanding of the world, pre-QM, said it worked.. And one of the things that still perplexes is ‘spooky action at a distance’.

When objects are paired in a quantum sense it means that they are connected in some way that defies explanation. Not only does it defy explanation it also flies in the face of the Theory of Relativity (that other most successful physics theory) because this information flows through this connection instantly. Meaning faster than the speed of light which is the fastest anything can go in the physical universe.

This may fly in the face of reason but when they finally figured out how to experimentally see if this was the case they found that it works like QM says it should.

So how do we reconcile these two opposing but real views of the way the world works? Well for most of the time since 1929 we’ve seen that on the level of everyday things like cars, people, weather, and the such it’s the rules of Classical physics that are followed. And down at the level of atoms it is Quantum Mechanics rules that dictate behaviour. And that’s almost workable for many scientists because thinking about QM can make your head hurt. So when someone points at some QM reality like Quantum Tunneling (the equivalent of baseballs magically crossing brick walls without actually being within the wall as they do it) and asks how is that possible? Scientists can say ‘That only happens at the scale of electrons. At the scale of baseballs we use different rules.’

Well … as we learn more and more about this world we find ourselves in we bump into things that do not fit nicely on one side of this ‘fence’. And in this Science Daily article they talk about recent findings that seem to violate our understanding of QM and show this Spooky Action at a Distance with macroscopic sized objects.

Before I close this draft I wanted to put in a reminder that this reminds me of work by Edwin R. Fitzgerald on Phonons in Crystalline materials. In his 1966 book “Particle waves and deformation in crystalline solids” he talks about inelastic deformations of crystalline latices. And makes a good case for a quantum aspect to some things we take for granted like … friction for instance. And he also makes a case for spall deformation in metal on metal impacts being the result of phonons at work. That the lattice of the target material will deform before the lattice of the impact-or material physically touches it. This is because the phonon waves ‘cross the space’ between lattices before the collision happens. Not that they actually reach cross the space but the space that they cover comes to encompass the atoms in this new lattice. And the effect of phonons / waves travels this way and momentum is transferred, as is energy.

It males me wonder if something of the same is going on here … I’ll try to dig up my copy of Fitzgerald and take a refresher 🙂

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