Mr. P.J. spotted this one, and it's a doozie, because scientists have now demonstrated that entanglement - that strange non-local phenomenon where particles "entangled" with information stay coupled with each other, no matter the distance between them - is no longer an affair to be limited simply to individual particles, but to several, or in this case, billions of them:
Before we get to this article, in my most recent book Microcosm and Medium I noted how the physicist Wheeler, one of the "inventors" of the multi-verse theory of quantum mechanics, was fascinated by the question of whether or not the observer principle of quantum mechanics was operative at a much more macrocosmic level, not just at the level of particles, but in the larger universe; he was spurred to this question by a consideration of group observers, and whether they could, so to speak, bend the fabric of reality by an agreed-upon group intention. The implications of his speculations are such that the idea of entanglement of information between two particles could be extended to whole systems.
With that idea of "whole systems" in mind, ponder these two paragraphs from the above story at phys.org:
While certain quantum behaviors are currently limited to atomic systems, researchers keep searching for hints of quantum physics in more massive objects. Now Simon Gröblacher, of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and colleagues have pushed the boundaries of quantum weirdness to macroscopic scales. They demonstrated quantum entanglement and violations of Bell’s inequality—a canonical test of the principle that all influences on a particle are local and that particle states exist independently of the observer. They used two mechanical resonators, each containing roughly 10 billion atoms.
In their experiments, the team placed two 10-μm -long resonators, made of strips of silicon, 20 cm apart in separate arms of an optical interferometer. A laser pulse shot through a beam splitter mechanically excited one of the two resonators, but there was no way to tell which one. The excited resonator emitted a photon, which passed through a second beam splitter and registered at one of two detectors. The emission of this photon signaled entanglement of the mechanical states of the two resonators. A second laser pulse verified the entanglement by converting the excited resonator’s excitation into a second photon, which was also recorded by the detectors. (Emphasis added)
Let that one sink in for a moment: the experiment involved the entanglement not of two particles, but two whole mechanical resonators, two systems of a much more macrocosmic scale, consisting of billions of atoms. With a little "tweaking" such a system could be used to create networks of entangled resonators - think of it like a complex hyper-dimensional artificial set of neurons - which would be beneficial for quantum computing:
The team hopes to test quantum mechanics on an even larger scale by creating more complex quantum states of optomechanical systems. Also, by improving the lifetime of the mechanical excitations of the resonators—currently limited to just a few microseconds—the team says that this setup could operate as a memory node in a quantum network.
Add some nano-technology engineering of the materials of such resonators themselves to improve (presumably) the efficiency of the entanglement of such resonators or their life-time of operability, and you get the idea. Nano-engineering, in other words, is the key to "creating more complex quantum states" of such "optomechanical systems."
Now let's walk off the end of the twig of high octane speculation and scale the idea up even more: imagine creating such resonators with a regularity of construction on the size, say, of whole buildings (think pyramids, folks), and one has a system of entangled analogue optomehcanical resonators that are, gee whiz, lookie lookie, piezo-electric in nature, and they're spread all over the surface of the planet to boot (and, if some suggestive photographs of our celestial neighbors are any indication, "elsewhere" as well). And if those resonators are coupled oscillators to their home planet(s) and other bodies as well, then one might be looking at a gigantic celestial machine...
See you on the flip side...