I have heard a lot recently about particle entanglement and wanted to make sure that people didn’t get too “entangled” in all the technical mumbo jumbo. I wasn’t able to find too many articles online that dealt with the important part of the breakthrough. Most of the articles had to do with saying Einstein was wrong and focusing on the “spooky action at a distance” nonsense. I am going to break this down into layman’s terms (at least as far as how I understand it) and focus on the engineering aspects. To begin with let me explain the difference between an engineer and a scientist. A scientist’s job is to discover and to describe how nature works. He/she is fascinated with the discovery of new things and that is enough. The engineer, on the other hand, is interested in what you can DO with that new knowledge. He/she says, “Wow, that is really neat, Mr. Scientist, but, so what?” If the new knowledge provides no practical application then it is merely academic to the engineer and serves no purpose other than to enlighten. This is not intended to make the search for truth and knowledge trivial. It is simply a different point of view. Keep in mind, without the scientific breakthroughs, the engineer would have no practical knowledge to work with in the first place.
So, while I have read a lot lately on “Particle Entanglement”, I wanted to focus this article on “Practical Entanglement”. The thing that makes the recent work done by TU Delft:
IMPORTANT is not the whole proving Einstein wrong… I could care less. It’s that they somehow figured out how to change the spin of one end of an entangled particle and then detect the “instantaneous” change at the other end. Now, if I have jumped too far ahead, please, Google “Particle Entanglement”. There are a dozen very good explanations. I don’t plan to explain it here.
So let’s concentrate on the important part of what this means. This is the PRACTICAL part. If they figured out how to change the spin of one end of an entangled particle, which essentially has two states (call it “up” and “down”), then read the change in state of the other end of the particle and these two particles are separated by a great distance, then they will have completely revolutionized the computing and communications industry. This is because the change in state is practically INSTANTANEOUS. They have measured the change (or transmission of data) to be at least 10,000 times faster than if they had transmitted the data using radio (or light). This was over a distance of about 10 feet. Their next test it to separate the two entangled particles by almost a mile. There are a couple other things to understand….. Our current means of transmitting data requires line of site, since the radio waves must travel from the transmitter to the receiver. My understanding of this technology is that since the “transmission” of data (if that is what you can call it) doesn’t really happen in our plane of existence (again, if you think of it this way) then what lies between the particles makes no difference. This would make communications satellites and transmission towers completely unnecessary.
With distance no longer being a factor, the Entangled Particle Communications shown above could just as easily be between two people on different planets:
The big concern I have is the technique used to change the spin of one end of the entangled particle (data transmission) and the technique used to measure the other end (data reception). If this requires a great deal of energy or some special “ultra hard to come by” materials (unobtainium?) then further research is going to be needed. Just like our steps toward a practical application of the “wonder” material, graphene. I am excited and I hope they figure out some practical ways of harnessing this potentially revolutionary technology (while I am still alive!!!).