Evidence of quantum feasibility and its real-world potential applications have been recognized with the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics.
At some level we are all subject to quantum laws, which even Albert Einstein tried to reconcile. For the most part, these rules operate behind the scenes in the transistors that make up computing chips, lasers and even in the chemistry of the atoms and molecules in the matter around us. Applications arising from this year’s Nobel Prize use quantitative data at larger scales. They include completely secure communications and quantum computers that can eventually solve problems that no conceivable conventional computer in the lifetime of the universe could accomplish.
This year the prize is shared among three scientists. Alain Aspect and John Clauser confirmed that the rules of quantum mechanics, as strange and hard to believe as they are, really govern the world, while Anton Zeilinger used new quantum behavior to develop fundamental applications that no conventional technology could match. Each laureate will take home a third of the prize money, which is a total of 10 million Swedish kronor, roughly $915,000 as of October 4.
“Today we honor three scientists whose groundbreaking experiments have shown us that the extraterrestrial world of entanglement … is not just a micro-world of atoms, and certainly not a virtual science fiction or mystical one, but the real world in which we all live. in,” said Thors Hans Hansson, a member of the Nobel Committee for Physics, at a press conference announcing the award on October 4 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.SN: 11/5/10).
“It’s certainly very exciting to learn about the three laureates,” says scientist Jerry Chow of IBM Quantum in Yorktown Heights, NY. It’s something that has been a really big part of many research efforts over many years.”
Aspect, Université Paris-Saclay and École Polytechnique in France, and Clauser, who now runs a company in California, shows that there are no secret communication channels that explain how two particles can exist in one entity, even though they are far away (SN: 12/29/14).
Experiments by Zeilinger, University of Vienna, which are based on quantum behavior, include demonstrations of communications, encryption and components completely dependent on quantum computers. Another, widely understood, application is quantum teleportation. Unlike the teleportation of people and things in science fiction, the effect involves the perfect transmission of information about the matter from one place to another.
“I’ve always been interested in quantum mechanics from the very first moments when I read about it,” Zeilinger said by phone to announce the news conference. “I was also struck by some of the theoretical predictions because of the usual insights that one could not have.”
The discovery of the quantum behavior that governs the world at scales, such as the motion of an electron around an atom, revolutionized physics at the beginning of the 20th century. Many leading scientists, most famously Einstein, admitted that quantum theories had been developed, but argued that they could not be a true description of the world, that in them, at best, calculating the probabilities that something would happen (.SN: 1/12/22). To Einstein this meant that there was some hidden information that experiments were too crude to discover.
Others believed that the amount of behavior, derogatively, called weird, although difficult to understand, did not have secret ways of transmitting information. It was a great idea and debate until physicist John Bell proposed a test in the 1960s to prove that there are no hidden channels of communication between quantum objects (SN: 12/29/14). At the time it was not clear whether the experiment was possible to perform the experiment.
Clauser developed the first practical experiment to confirm Bell’s proof, since his experiment could not have survived without leaving room for doubt. (His interest in science developed early. In 1959 and 1960, Clauser competed in the National Science Fair, now known as the International Science and Engineering Fair (SN: 5/23/59). He runs a fair from the Society of Sciences, which he preaches Science News.
The aspect still took the idea to remove any chance, as much as Mechanics had some hidden physical surveys (SN: 1/11/86). The Clauser and Aspect experiment involves creating pairs of photographs that are jammed, implying that they are essentially one object. When the photons moved in different directions, they remained entangled. That is, they exist as one extended object. The characteristics of one measure show at once the properties of another, however far apart.
The implication is that the state of affairs is tenuous and difficult to maintain, but the results of Clauser and Aspect’s experiments show that the quantum effect cannot be explained by any hidden differences that would be the hallmarks of non-quantum theories.
For Chow, the significance of this research is twofold. “It’s really an element of demonstration, from a philosophical point of view, of how much mechanics is true,” he said. “But then, on the more useful side … this same beautiful theory of quantum mechanics lays down different rules by which information is processed.” That in turn opens up new avenues for next-generation technologies, such as quantum computers and communications (SN: 12/3/20).
Zeilinger’s experiments were complicated to make gains that would not have been possible without the results that Clauser and Aspect confirmed. It extends experiments from the lab to intercontinental distances, opening up the possibility that complexity can be put to practical use.SN: 5/31/12). Because interactions with one pair of entangled particles affect the other, they can become very important in secure communication and encryption. How much the outsider tries to listen to each other will be revealed because they break the entanglement as if it were crushing.
Quantum computers that rely on complex particles have also become a topic of active research. Instead of those and conventional computer codes, quantum computers encode information and perform calculations that are mixtures of both ones and zeros. In theory they can perform some calculations that no digital computation can ever match. Zeilinger’s quantum teleportation experiments provide a way to transfer information that relies on both quantum computers (SN: 1/17/98).
“this” [award] It’s a very nice and sure surprise for me,” says Nicolas Gisin, a scientist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. “This award is well deserved, but it comes a bit late. [1970s and 1980s]But the Nobel Committee was lazy and is now running behind the technology boom.
That boom is happening on a global scale, Gisin says. “In the US and in Europe and in China, billions — literally billions — of dollars are being poured into this field. So it’s completely changing,” he said. “Instead of a handful of people working in the field, now we have a really huge influx of physicists and engineers working together.”
Although some quantum applications are still in their infancy, the experiments of Clauser, Aspect, and Zeilinger bring quantum mechanics and new implications to the macroscopic. Their contributions strengthen some of the key, once controversial concepts of quantum mechanics and promise new applications that may one day be commonplace in everyday life, in ways that even Einstein did not deny.
Mary Temming contributed to this story.
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