Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quantum entanglement from a microwave?

   The term quantum entanglement refers to a phenomenon which occurs when quantum particles with a shared relationship become separated yet still maintain a type of indefinite-connectedness, continuing to share the same basic quantum state no matter how far they are apart. Their continued relationship is apparent when one of the pair is measured, causing both to exhibit complementary values.
   For more on the subject, see this reference in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, or Wikipedia's entry on Quantum Entanglement. This article by Paul Comstock published in 2007 in the California Literary Review called "The Strange World of Quantum Entanglement" also makes some interesting observations.
   Currently, laser beams have been the instrument of necessity for scientists working to create such a state of quantum superposition. That may all change, however, with further advances on the recently-discovered capability of microwaves to propel ions into this precise state, as was announced by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
   Microwave technology would enable far smaller devices to be built and lead to significant advances in quantum computing--or so it's hoped.
   Clay Dillow, writing in POPSCI, states: "The entire layout described by the NIST researchers in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature is tabletop-size, or roughly one-tenth as big as the usual room-sized “laser park” needed to generate controlled ion entanglement with light."
   Dillow cites the potential as huge and notes the already-common use of microwaves in wireless communication.
   Richard Adhikari, writing in TechNewsWorld: "The microwaves used are similar to those used in smartphones, and NIST speculates that eventually a quantum computer could resemble a smartphone."
   Quantum physics is fascinating--and a bit spooky. What other things in the realm of human existence are entangled--connected though separated--that we have yet to recognize?
   Following is a 2006 lecture on quantum entanglements by Standford University Professor Leonard Susskind.

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