The unobserved tree makes noise  MAR 09 2009

Two independent groups of scientists have recently confirmed that the universe does exist when we are not observing it.

The reality in question -- admittedly rather a small part of the universe -- was the polarisation of pairs of photons, the particles of which light is made. The state of one of these photons was inextricably linked with that of the other through a process known as quantum entanglement. The polarised photons were able to take the place of the particle and the antiparticle in Dr Hardy's thought experiment because they obey the same quantum-mechanical rules. Dr Yokota (and also Drs Lundeen and Steinberg) managed to observe them without looking, as it were, by not gathering enough information from any one interaction to draw a conclusion, and then pooling these partial results so that the total became meaningful.

That's a relief, although the head of one of the group called their results "preposterous", so perhaps we're still not really here.

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
physics   quantum mechanics   science

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