Friday, April 20, 2012

Here I am, Nobel Prize Committee (Physics)

My daughter just woke me up because she couldn't find her Pooh Bear and startled me (read "scared me out of my wits") enough that I can't go back to sleep. Partially because I can't silence my noisy thoughts.

One of the various things running through my head when I awoke might be a way to explain an aspect of quantum entanglement. (Yes, these things do run through my mind at all hours.) In that case, in order to secure my status as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Physics, I'll post my idea here. (I apologize to my regular readers as this will probably not interest any of you in the slightest.)

In order to visualize this, let's visit Flatland in order to deal with this in a way that gets rid of a complicating dimension.

Perhaps entangled particles are actually two points on a loop (which was created when the particles were entangled). This loop would need to be rigid in such a way that when you twist one particle by measuring the spin (or other entangled property), the other is instantly twisted as well. (Think of those flexible screw drivers.)

The loop would need to have other properties as well.

It would have to either be able to be pinched and stretched*, so that the two points- the particles- could go from being proximate, to being a very great distance apart --- OR-the loop would need to be able to grow exponentially while maintaining its circular geometry. Or, perhaps the loop doesn't actually grow, but is passing perpendicularly through the plane of Flatland so that the points of its intersection move apart. This would mean that the loop would need to be, for all practical purposes, infinitely large since particles don't seem to slow and eventually reverse their paths.

(*If the loop were flexible enough to be pinched and stretched, might there be a case of more than two particles being entangled? The loop might "loop" around enough to pass through the plane of Flatland 2, 4, 6, or more times, which could be experimentally checked.)

Now, to visualize this idea in our Universe, return the dimension we lost by going to Flatland, and view the particles (or "strings") as "points" along a higher-dimensional "loop" where it passes through our spatial dimensions and you should be able to visualize what I am thinking.

One problem I see with this idea is that a circular loop would seem to dictate that the entangled particles should move apart very rapidly at first as the loop passed through our dimension, then slow as the sides of the loop became more and more "parallel" to one another and perpendicular to the "plane" of the Universe they passed through. This could also indicate I have the geometry wrong even if the concept is basically sound.

I believe experiments could be designed to test some of the characteristics of this hypothetical loop in order to falsify the idea. But I am not the person to do the math. I'm willing to share the Nobel Prize with someone who can work out the math- and hey, if a mass-murdering puppetician like Obama can get a "peace prize", a simple mountainman like me should be a serious contender for a prize in physics. I'll await my call.



  1. I wouldn't think you'd *want* a Nobel prize anymore, just because of the company it would put you in...

  2. As long as it isn't the "Peace Prize"...
    I could use the money. Hmmm. Is the prize funded voluntarily? I believe it is.

  3. Playwright Jean-Paul Sartre was award the prize in the 1960's. He inquired if he could decline the award, but still have the cash. The Noble committee said "no". So there's that.

  4. "I could use the money. Hmmm. Is the prize funded voluntarily? I believe it is."

    That depends on how you look at it- Nobel's money came from the sale of explosives to the government for war use. Possibly the bloodiest money in existence. So there's that.

    Something bothers me in your hypothesis-but I can't quite put my finger on it. I'll let you know when I do-perhaps it is just geometry.

  5. I was thinking of all the peaceful and beneficial uses for the explosives. But, yeah, government is a big customer of anything that can potentially be used to kill people.

    Let me know when you figure out what part of the hypothesis is bothering you. As I say, this was going through my mind as I woke up- I was actually seeing it "working" as described in my head.

  6. Counterpoint: if I were offered the peace prize, I can be pretty sure the other guy would use the money to make more victims, and I wouldn't. I would check, of course.

    I think what you're trying to say is that the particles are connected via hyperspace. They have different conventional coordinates but the same hyperspace coordinates. They're secretly in the same place, so to speak.

    Is that right?

  7. I would be hard-pressed to refuse any cash award at this time, but I'm not too worried about having to face the difficulty of refusing a coercively-funded cash prize of any sort in any amount.

    Hmmm. Not "connected" as much as two points along one homogeneous thing. If the "loop" slipped perpendicularly through our Universe you wouldn't see any change whatsoever. The entangled particles are not beads on a rope, but the rope itself where that "rope" passes through our Universe.

    Not exactly "in the same place" since there is more than one location in our Universe where the "loop" intersects our Universe (which we "see" as the entangled particles), but one "place" in the same way that a hose in your yard* is "in one place" even though it might snake all over the yard. It is one hose, and is not chopped up. It might cross your sidewalk in more than one location, and if your awareness were limited to the sidewalk (your entire observable/measurable "universe") you might perceive two "hose particles" which seemed to be "entangled"- it might be mysterious to you that you twist one section of hose ("hosicle"?) and get an instantaneous change in the other entangled hosicle. Of course, a hose doesn't instantaneously respond along its entire length to something done to one part of it, but it is flexible in about every way imaginable, whereas my hypothetical "loop" is not.

    *Of course, here I am introducing another dimension to the illustration, so don't try to mix this with the previous one or you'll get confused. In my earlier illustration I am talking about points (or at least "strings") passing through a plane universe, here I am talking about a hose (which has a length) passing "through" a sidewalk universe- the sidewalk is the intersection of the "sidewalk universe" with the ground surface, if you can picture that. This isn't a plane, but a very shallow universe along the dimension of the width of the sidewalk. I fear mixing illustrations to clarify might have the opposite effect, so try to take each one separately.

  8. The homogenous thing must extend through what's colloquially known as hyperspace. Dimensions that aren't in the usual 3+1, and don't necessarily share the 3's geometry.

    How would you tell the difference, from the perspective of a human observer, between different parts of a hyperspace loop and secretly the same part? Or: why can't I shrink the loop in hyperspace to an infinitesimal size?

    I see no reason to think I've misunderstood your hosicle. Basically what you want to do is project four or more dimensions onto two dimensions. Imagine the sidewalk is one dimension instead of a mini-2D embedded in a larger 2D. Assuming away certain technicalities, the 2D hose would be exactly like the loop, and the sidewalk hosicles would be one dimensional points like the observable entangled particles.

  9. Yes, through hyperspace. I was just confused by your use of the word "connected"- it made it seem like the intersections were somehow fundamentally distinct from the areas between them.

    "How would you tell the difference, from the perspective of a human observer, between different parts of a hyperspace loop and secretly the same part?"

    I don't think you could, for the same reason that all electrons (or whatever elemental particle we discuss) are indistinguishable from any other of the same species of particle. (And I'm using the iffy term "particle", based on the old view, just because it is easier.) They may as well be the same particle in a different location.

    "Or: why can't I shrink the loop in hyperspace to an infinitesimal size?"

    I see no reason you couldn't. It's just that in that case you would not see it intersecting our "plane" more than once. Maybe this is what a "normal particle" is. Maybe "strings" (mini-loops in their own right) are the cross sections of these infinitesimal "loops" (very hose-like!) where they pass through our "plane".

    I think you see what I am trying to describe. It is hard describing a two dimensional representation of a higher-dimensional shadow cast on our 3 (spatial) dimensional Universe without losing something critical in the process. Without using math that is WAY beyond me, anyway.

  10. I finally put my finger on it.

    Why all the tubes, etc.? Does the crow not fly faster? What is apparent here is evidence of transmissions faster- waaaaay faster-than light. Occam does have his place, after all.

    It is a case, as is all of quantum mechanics, against relativity. And, since light, in some aspects at least, behaves as a particle, I need to wonder why this is such a big deal? A wave cannot beat a particle? Matter has resistance, but a wave is just energy, yes?

    They travel at the same speed? Why? Always?

    It is totally possible that I'm simply ignorant of the principles involved, if so I happily await education.

  11. Not just faster than light; instantaneous. The only other case where something is generally accepted as "traveling" faster than light is during the inflationary phase of the Universe just after the Big Bang, when space itself grew faster than the speed of light.

    I guess the reason for "all the tubes" is that ring-like shapes seem as though they might be the fundamental shape in the Universe, it string theory is correct. I am simply scaling up a bit. And, my original idea isn't "tubes", since they would have no thickness, but only a circumference. The "tube" structure would only come into play if the entangled particles were actually strings and would therefore need that shape. Which, if string theory is right, I suppose they would.

    Light- photons- are a special case. They are a massless particle. That's the only reason they can travel at lightspeed. As such they don't seem to have any resistance. Because, they are both a wave and a particle, depending on how you observe them. Of course, the speed of light is different depending on the substance the light is traveling through, so I guess there is resistance, after all. But the speed of light through anything is always equal to, or less, than the speed of light in a vacuum, and will always be the top speed through that substance that anything can attain. And nothing that has any mass can reach that speed. A wave can beat a particle, but not a massless particle.

    And, actually, everything always travels through spacetime at a speed exactly equal to the speed of light. A photon only travels through the "space" aspect of spacetime and never through the "time" aspect. Photons don't age. A hypothetical particle that is completely "at rest", not moving through space at all, would only be moving through the "time" part of spacetime- aging at the speed of light. You and I are doing most of our traveling through the time component- at nearly the speed of light- and only a tiny fraction of traveling through "space" and a similarly tiny fraction of the speed of light. But it adds up to us traveling at the speed of light. This is why when something approaches the speed of light, time slows down for that "thing".

    I'm not so sure quantum mechanics is "against" relativity; it's just that both are incomplete pictures of what's really going on. When the "Grand Unified Theory" is figured out, quantum mechanics and relativity will still remain mostly intact, but will no longer be in any apparent conflict.

    I'm not sure if I've addressed any of your concerns or not.

  12. How about... two... two dimensional planes (parabolic)... (x,y) which reflect out (z) and the entangled particle are the reflection of the other... time, is the displacement between the mirror images of the particles between the 2 planes. Make sense?

  13. Are the planes in contact at the point where the entangled particles became entangled? In that case, I believe I can see it.