Updated: May 14, 2020
Quantum science and mechanics fascinates the heck out of me. It always has for reasons I have not clearly understood myself to date other than maybe a resonance via Parallel Universe entanglement I have yet to clearly understand.
I currently own several hundreds of tomes on the subject of Quantum Mechanics on my iPad using Kindle books which I pore over in morbid fascination either when sleep eludes me or I have a rare snippet of time handy and I am in the mood for exercising my sole surviving synapse.
When my sole surviving synapse struggles with some concepts I have those folks at UCSB working on Quantum compute stuff to lean on and they use our time to refine their own thoughts on it.
Sometimes talking through thought experiments with another mind helps you realize your train of thought being awry or away with the loony tunes.
I have found though that the most radical loony tune ideas are what leads to breakthroughs...
I am also into the work of Roger Penrose as he and I have the same thoughts about our understanding of physics being completely wrong and the study of Penrose patterns which has led to the discovery of completely new field of Polymer science technology where chemistry and physics merged and which came about because of people looking at Penrose patterns.
That's another hobby on its own which I may or may not get into here at a later date....
I do love symmetry for the same reasons AI like Quantum Mechanics!!
Looking at Quantum equations you barely understand is I find a real great way to put yourself into a deep state of theta wave sleep.
I then dream deep math for some reason, but the sleep really is really awesome!!
This hobby of mine has led me to read the complete works of guys like Srinivasa Ramanujan and have conversations with JPL folks I know about the math of Ramanujan which is being used these days in many JPL and NASA projects.
Re the Quantum realms, the concept that an atom could be in a myriad of states apart from one and zero and also concurrently be in all states, all at once, at the same time is quite the workout for the surviving synapse collection in the old cranium.
I am still struggling with the concept of particles and waves existing at the same time as paradoxically the math proofs for each validate and they should not. But they do.
This only makes sense if the entire universe is a hologram. Mathematically it appears that it in fact is....
Think of Schrodinger's cat inside and outside of the box at the same time as well as in concurrent Parallel Universes for a glimmer of the concept in a positive and negative mirror of everything and every possibility of state - all concurrently.
In my mind this is how the construct of the multi-verse is laid down that meets the Unified string theory that Garrett Lisi and part time Quantum pretenders like myself try and seek clarity for.
This is a most frustrating concept for the average mind to grasp.
The more you strain the old synapse helix, the harder it is to grasp. A paradox in learning if ever I encountered one...
You have to use meditation techniques to perceive the multi-verse with string theory all neatly tied up and empty your mind to allow the connectedness to everything in all possibilities of potential existence and probability to permeate the sole surviving synapse osmosis style for an awakening of sorts to occur.
Maddeningly when I sleep and dream in theta state sleep, clarity washes through the synapse only to fade like charity usually does when conscious again in the real world - darn irksome is that state of affairs!!
Its like drinking from a knowledge fountain that pours like an avalanche running down the mountain, only when you wake up you recall you greedily drank all you could but now you cannot remember anything other than wisps and tendrils of what you just achieved that clarity Samadhi moment on.
For me personally, Hein Braat mantras are the key to unlocking Pandora's box with respect to conscious cognition of these paradoxical states of being of everything, to bring back the clarity that sweet theta sleep brought you....
Now what, you might ask yourself does all of this have to do with HCI and such?
That is a darn good question actually.
I am not really sure to be honest, but as I get deeper into AI from various folks offerings and as I see potential unfolding and possibilities and merge points here with various technologies I can also see coming our way, sooner rather than later, a Vulcan mind meld between systems like Nutanix, AI and Quantum Qubits is inevitable.
Consider this blog a Sci-Fi meandering speculating on systems of tomorrow (as in way down the road - not the literal tomorrow)!
So if all of this has you reaching for the off switch on your computer, try and play around a bit with some quantum wave generators and filters (bits of plastic and lights) to understand the challenge concepts of the argument as to whether things are particles or waves.
I call them quantum erasers and they are simple but fascinating things to study.
Complementarity was developed to help understand the results of various laboratory experiments in these veins and our observations thereof.
Today, the idea of complementarity resides at the heart of what is known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.
There are other interpretations out there, but the Copenhagen model is the most widely accepted and easiest to grasp.
The laboratory experiments I refer to revolve around the double slit experiment, which can differentiate between a particle and a wave.
Imagine you’re at a gun range and you put up a large target to shoot at.
In between you and the target is a large steel wall with two narrow slits…maybe six inches wide and two feet apart.
You fire a few hundred rounds with your machine gun, and then observe the pattern on the target.
You will find an obvious pattern – two narrow lines where the bullets went through the slits.
Easy so far right?
Now let us take our large steel wall with the two slits and stick it in a lake, so that the slits are just above the surface.
Behind the wall, we’ll place some type of detector that can detect waves and call it a wave detector.
We then toss a large rock into the lake and watch the resulting wave emanate from the point of impact of said rock and strike the wall.
On the other side of the wall, two other waves appear from the slits.
The slits will each act like a wave source.
The waves from each source will interfere with each other and produce a distinct pattern on our detector wall.
It’s known as an interference pattern, and consists of several lines of different intensities.
Now, you should see where we’re going with this?
If we have an unknown substance, and we want to know if it is made of particles or waves, we can perform this experiment.
Light, for instance, will produce an interference pattern.
And that makes perfect sense – because it’s an electromagnetic wave.
One would think that sub-atomic particles would produce a pattern like our machine gun bullets did – two distinct lines.
It turns out that this is not the case.
They will produce an interference pattern as well. And that most certainly does not make sense.
But physicists are clever, and decided to try firing as if it went through both slits at the same time!
That’s impossible for bullets but we can do this with photons!
We must therefore take a much closer look at such an experiment!
We will then observe the single particle to see which slit it goes through.
Turns out that when you do this, you will get the double line pattern just like you expect.
If we look at it, we will see a particle.
If we don’t look at it, we will see a wave. (then how do we know its a wave?).
And thus was born the concept of complementarity.
The idea that “observation determines reality” gets into a philosophical quagmire that I’m not touching with a 69 foot HF antenna in this blog as I have had very passionate arguments with some folks at UC Berkeley and at the University of Texas at Austin about this and proven them both wrong.
However we can probe deeper into this mystery with a simple experiment.
What if we could observe the particle/wave/whatever it is AFTER it goes through the slit and BEFORE it hits the detector wall?
This is precisely what the quantum eraser experiment does.
Like several concepts in quantum theory, originally, thought experiments were developed to explore an idea or approach, but technology has advanced to the point where we can actually carry out some of them easily ourselves.
The quantum eraser experiment is one such experiment, and was carried out at the University of Maryland in 1999 and I have my very own setup at home (for those nights where sleep don't come naturally).
The experiment starts with visible light photons traveling through a double slit.
The exiting light immediately hits a prism which splits a single photon into an entangled pair.
A lens then directs one of the photons to detector D0. The other photon goes to another prism.
What happens next depends on which slit the original photon came through.
If it came from the top slit (path pictured in red), it will go to a half-silvered mirror BSb.
If it came from the bottom slit (path pictured in blue), the prism will direct it to half-silvered mirror BSa.
Note that “BS” stands for “Beam Splitter”: a half-silvered mirror will allow 50% of the photons to pass, and will reflect the other 50%.
The BSb mirror will send 50% of the photons from the top slit to detector D4 and the other 50% to the mirror Mb.
The photons from Mb head to another half-silvered mirror BSc.
This mirror will send 50% of the photons to detectors D1 and D2 respectively.
A similar action occurs with photons coming through the bottom slit.
They will hit BSa, which sends photons to detector D3 and mirror Ma.
From Ma, they will go to mirror BSc, which takes half of the photons to D1 and the other half to D2.
In the end, photons from the top slit will go to detectors’ D1, D2 and D4.
Note that no photons from the top slit can reach detector D3.
Photons from the bottom slit will go to detectors’ D1, D2 and D3. No photons from the bottom slit can reach detector D4.
Note that it is not possible to determine which slit the photons that hit D1 and D2 originated from.
So this is what we have:
Top slit = D4, Bottom slit = D3, Unknowable = D1 and D2
Detector D0 lies on the shortest path, so a photon will strike it approximately 8 nanoseconds before its entangled partner reaches another detector.
The Coincidence Counter allows us to assign a photon that strikes D0 to its entangled partner, which strikes D1 – D4.
So we put 12v on the Arduino Uno and let the photons loose.
This is what we find — D3 and D4 (labeled “R0n” in the images) show a particle pattern.
D1 and D2 show an interference pattern. And this makes total sense.
We cannot know which slit the photons detected at D1 and D2 came through.
So they must be acting as a wave?
And we know which slit the photons detected at D3 and D4 came through, so they act like particles.
But this is not the actual point of the experiment!
The neat stuff is going on at detector D0.
For every photon that hits D1 – D4, it has an entangled partner that hits D0 8ns earlier.
Like the other detectors, D0 can resolve a particle or wave pattern.
This is doing exactly what we wanted it to do — we’re looking at the particle AFTER it goes through the slit (via D0), but BEFORE it hits the detector wall, which in this case is made of detectors’ D1 – D4.
What they found was that the photons that hit D0 always — as in 100% of them — correlated to their partner photons.
And this, my fellow head-scratchers, should be impossible. Why?
The photons hit D0 8 nanoseconds before D1 – D4. The photons have a 50/50 chance of hitting D1/D2 or D3/D4.
How then can the photon that hits D0 know if its entangled partner went to D1/D2 or D3/D4?
We are forced to consider an impossible scenario:
The photons that end up at D1 and D2 must be sending information 8ns into the past to tell its entangled partner at D0 to become a wave.
The photons that end up at D3 and D4 must be sending information 8ns into the past to tell its entangled partner at D0 to become a particle.
Note how the bands are opposite of each other in R01 and R02. This corresponds to the R01 and R02 waveforms in the top image.
This, my fellow primates, is a simplified explanation of what the quantum eraser is all about. It “erases” the past, preventing us from ever knowing which slit the photon came through.
Bohr was right: complementarity is real, impossible as it might seem.
However, our problem lies not with what appears to be undeniable time travel.
Our problem is that how we view the natural world is not compatible in the quantum realm.
To ask if it is a wave or a particle is nonsense. To ask if it’s even there is nonsense. There is no such thing as “there” in the quantum realm.
Concepts like time and space, cause and effect …have different meanings there… meanings that we’re still not completely sure of even today!
Encourage your sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to take the helm and study quantum theory because we iz all mighty puzzled.
Once we understand this particle vs wave concept, we can move on to the next series in this blog which will look at the concept of merging Quantum Qubits with Nutanix x64 processor based stuff at the control of an AI controller.
In fact you might want to ask your Nutanix AE to find out when Nutanix for IBM Q is going to hit the roadmap!! Might generate a giggle or three....
Crawl well before you learn to stand, walk and run as they say even if from a Quantum POV you were running before you were crawling....
Welcome to Paradox city!!
I need another banana while I think this one through!!
The real question is therefore not what came first in a Chicken or egg argument, but was it the Particle or the Wave that came first?
That is the Ultimate question!!
From a Quantum perspective the Chicken definitely came before the egg...go figure....