Posted in | Quantum Physics

Breakthrough Study Demonstrates New Quantum Phenomenon

Researchers at Chapman University’s Institute for Quantum Studies (IQS) have published a research paper outlining a new quantum phenomenon called the "quantum pigeonhole principle" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Before this discovery, the pigeonhole principle was a basic tenet of conventional wisdom. According to which, if three pigeons were placed in two pigeonholes, then one of the holes must have at least two pigeons in it. This fundamental principle has been violated by Dr. Yakir Aharonov and his team from the Chapman University’s Institute for Quantum Studies (IQS) in the research they performed. The study shows how to put a higher count of particles in two boxes, without any two particles being in the same box.

This discovery points to a very interesting structure of quantum mechanics that was hitherto unnoticed. This now requires us to revisit some of the most basic notions of nature.

Yakir Aharonov, Ph.D., Co-Director of IQS

Various feasible experiments, which explore the implications for the mechanism of particle interactions have been discussed in the paper, titled, “Quantum Violation of the Pigeonhole Principle and the Nature of Quantum Correlations”. New findings on associated quantum effects are also outlined.

It is still very early to say what the full implications of this research are. But we feel one should expect them to be major because we are dealing with such fundamental concepts.

Jeff Tollasken, Ph.D., Co-Director of IQS

For example; things can exist in multiple locations at the same time, according to the laws governing the quantum world. So it is possible to have a single particle in two boxes simultaneously, but only if it is left unobserved. However, when observed, the particle is forced to be in one box or the other

But if your only tool is a hammer, then you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail. The problem was that the ‘hammer-type’ measurements usually are not the most useful in figuring out how the quantum world links the future with the present in subtle and significant ways.

Jeff Tollasken, Ph.D., Co-Director of IQS

Aharonov and his team have worked for two decades on new types of gentle “weak measurements,” which can see these linkages — “akin to tapping something softly with your finger rather than smashing it with that hammer, which forces each pigeon to be in a single box" Tollaksen says.

The findings provide new insights into non-locality, the most unusual aspect of nature. According to the theory of non-locality, the particles placed at long distances, even at two different poles of the universe, are linked with each other and could affect the behavior of each particle.

Non-locality is regarded as the most profound discovery of science and is the resource for the future of technology.

Jeff Tollasken, Ph.D., Co-Director of IQS

Few predictions discussed in the PNAS paper have already been experimentally verified. Dr. Tollaksen and collaborator Prof. Yuji Hasegawa at the Vienna University of Technology published the experimental results in December in the "Physical Review A" journal.

Dr. Aharonov, Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., Dr. Tollaksen, Ph.D., Sandu Popescu, Ph.D., Irene Sabadini, Ph.D., and Fabrizio Colombo, Ph.D., all members of Chapman University’s IQS are the authors on the paper.

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