Larger Entanglement Experiments?


This article is a bit of fun, but also quite serious, and it seems apropos of the season that when Christians are celebrating the ultimate “portal opening” that scientists are  trying to come up with their own version. This story was spotted and shared by J.K. (thank you), and since we’ve discussed such topics many times in our vidchats and occassionally in public blogs on this site, it seems appropriate to do so again.

The fun part of this article comes from the fact that it’s a tabloid newspaper, The NY Post, that’s reporting it from last July:

Scientists are trying to open a portal to a parallel universe

In spite of the headline here, that scientists are trying to open a “portal”, the experiment involves, I rather suspect, something else entirely, namely, quantum tunneling. Here’s what’s said about the experiment:

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee are trying to open a portal to a parallel universe.

The project — which has been compared to the Upside Down in the Netflix blockbuster “Stranger Things” — hopes to show a world identical to ours where life is mirrored.

Leah Broussard, the physicist leading the experiment, told NBC the plan is “pretty wacky” but will “totally change the game,” ahead of a series of experiments she plans to run this summer.

Broussard’s experiment will fire a beam of subatomic particles down a 50-foot tunnel. The beam will pass a powerful magnet and hit an impenetrable wall, with a neutron detector behind it.

If the experiment is successful, particles will transform into mirror images of themselves, allowing them to burrow right through the impenetrable wall. (Emphasis added)

Now why do I suspect that this is about quantum tunneling and not “opening portals”? Because quantum tunneling is the phenomenon whereby small atomic or sub-atomic particles somehow burrow their way through impenetrable barriers, usually very thin ones. In classical pre-quantum mechanical era physics, they should not be able to do this. What’s interesting here, however, is that the “wall” appears to be thicker, and that the experiment is predicated on a hypothesis that many have thought to be the reality behind the phenomenon: the creation of “mirror images” of the particle impacting the barrier emerging on the other side of it. In other words, the particle doesn’t really burrow through the barrier, but rather, knocks a particle in the barrier – a mirror image of itself – loose. In a way, it’s a kind of entanglement. What  the article is suggesting is that this experiment is being conducted on much larger levels and scales than previous tunneling experiments, perhaps to see if the tunneling phenomenon itself can occur at much larger scales than hitherto thought. If so, then it would dovetail nicely with recent experiments demonstrating that entanglement itself can occur at much larger scales than previously thought.

But at the very end of the article, there’s a statement that forms the matrix for today’s high octane speculation:

However, there wouldn’t be an alternate version of you. Current theory, the outlet explains, only hypothesizes that mirror atoms and mirror rocks are possible — and perhaps even mirror planets and stars.

It’s that statement that I take is the clue for the idea that the tunneling phenomenon may work at larger scales than once thought. But it’s that statement that “there wouldn’t be an alternate version of you,” that really sent my high octane speculation motor into overdrive, for what it suggests is that there’s no reason to expect that conscious intention has anything to do with the tunneling phenomenon.

Here I beg to differ, and strongly suspect that the exact opposite might be true. After all, at the heart of quantum mechanics is the Uncertainty Principle that one cannot measure the position and momentum of an electron at the same time, one must choose one or the other. And it’s that act of choosing one or the other than put the Observer squarely in the center of modern physics,for before an  experiment is even performed, one has already determined the quality of its outcome based on that choice. This has led to a whole new focus on the Observer not only within physics, but within scientific studies of “the paranormal” (for want of a better expression). Anyone familiar with the work of retired materials science professor at the University of California, Dr. William Tiller, will be familiar with the astonishing results of his experiments in the ability of mere human intention to alter material or chemical states with measurable results. Similar experiments were performed during the USA’s  covert and highly classified “remote viewing” experiments of the 1970s and 1980s.

Now apply that idea to the tunneling phenomenon: could it be rendered more, or less, efficient by human intentionality? I suspect so, and if I can think of it, rest assured, they have too, but we’ll probably never hear about the results of those experiments…

See you on the flip side…


Quantum Physics & Biology

Weird World of Quantum Physics May Govern Life

Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 05 June 2012
The bizarre rules of quantum mechanics may in fact enable many of life's fundamental processes, scientists say.
The bizarre rules of quantum mechanics may in fact enable many of life’s fundamental processes, scientists say.
CREDIT: agsandrew | Shutterstock

NEW YORK — The bizarre rules of quantum physics are often thought to be restricted to the microworld, but scientists now suspect they may play an important role in the biology of life.

Evidence is growing for the involvement of quantum mechanics in a wide range of biological processes, including photosynthesis, bird migration, the sense of smell, and possibly even the origin of life.

These and other mysteries were the topic of a panel lecture June 1 held here at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, part of the fifth annual World Science Festival.

uantum mechanics refers to the strange set of rules that governs the behavior of subatomic particles, which can travel through walls, behave like waves and stay connected over vast distances. [Stunning Photos of the Very Small]

“Quantum mechanics is weird, that’s its defining characteristic. It’s funky and strange,” said MIT mechanical engineer Seth Lloyd.

These oddities generally don’t affect everyday macroscopic objects, which are thought to be too hot and wet for delicate quantum states to withstand. But it seems nature may have found ways to harness quantum mechanics to power some of its most complex and vital systems.

“Life is made out of atoms and atoms behave quantum mechanically,” said cosmologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University. “Life has been around for a long time — 3.5 billion years on this planet at least — and there’s plenty of time to learn some quantum trickery if it confers an advantage.”

Bird brains

One area where clues are implicating quantum mechanics is the internal compasses of birds and other migratory animals. Many bird species migrate thousands of miles every year to return not just to the same region, but to the exact same breeding spot.

For ages, scientists have puzzled how birds could achieve such a feat of navigation, assuming they possess some ability to sense direction based on Earth’s magnetic field.

“We see clearly they can detect the magnetic field,” said University of California, Irvine, biophysicist Thorsten Ritz. “What we cannot do is say, ‘This is the magnetic organ.'”

Mounting evidence now suggests birds may be relying on quantum entanglement — the strange ability of particles to share properties even when separated, so that if an action is performed on one, the other feels its consequences.

Scientists think the process is made possible by a protein inside birds’ eye cells called cryptochrome.

When green light passes into the bird’s eye, it hits cryptochrome, which gives an energy boost to one of the electrons of an entangled pair, separating it from its partner. In its new location, the electron experiences a slightly different magnitude of Earth’s magnetic field, and this alters the electron’s spin. Birds can use this information to build an internal map of Earth’s magnetic field to figure out their position and direction.

“It’s certainly very plausible,” Lloyd said. “It sounded kind of crazy when I first heard it. We don’t have direct experimental evidence, but it does make sense.”

The theory gained support from a recent experiment with fruit flies, which also contain cryptochrome. When this light-detecting protein was extracted from the fruit flies, they lost their magnetic sensitivity and became discombobulated.

Sniffing scents

Another case where quantum mechanics may come to the rescue is the sense of smell. At first, biologists thought they understood smell through a simple model: Odor molecules waft into the nose, and receptor molecules there bind to these molecules and identify them based on their particular shape.

But scientists realized that some odor molecules that have identical shapes have completely different smells, due to a minute chemical change, such as a single hydrogen atom in the molecule being replaced by a heavier version of hydrogen called deuterium. While this affects the weight of the molecule, it doesn’t change its shape, so it still fits into the receptor molecule in exactly the same way.

How, then, can olfactory systems sense the difference? The answer may lie in quantum particles’ ability to act like waves.

“The theory is that even if the shape of the molecule is the same, because it’s got this slight difference, it vibrates in a different fashion,” Lloyd said. “And this kind of wavelike nature, which is a purely quantum kind of effect, somehow this receptor is able to sense this vibrational difference.”

Missing pieces

Physicists are probing more and more unsolved mysteries of biology, hoping that quantum mechanics may provide the missing piece of the puzzle. They even have hope that it could shed light on one of the most intractable questions in all of biology: How did life get started?

“We want to know ‘How did non-life turn into life?'” Davies said. “Life is clearly a distinctive state of matter. What we would like to know is if that distinctiveness is fundamentally quantum mechanical.”

But in their excitement to try the quantum key in the locks of biology, some scientists are wary of overreaching.

“Quantum mechanics is strange and mysterious,” Lloyd said. “The origins of life are strange and mysterious. That doesn’t mean that they’re all the same thing. I think one should be careful saying that all strange and mysterious things have the same origin.”