MACRO-ENTANGLEMENT?May 20, 2020
When I read this article sent in by H.A.H., it sent my mind spinning in so many directions, most of which I or others have discussed on this website, and also from time to time in the members' vidchats. It's one of those physics stories that, at first reading, seems rather bland, dull, and only the stuff that nerdy theoreticians would get excited about. I'm tempted to tell you up front what has my mind so exercised by recounting a bit of context, but that recounting of context would give it all away, so instead of my normal procedure, I'm going to let the reader dive right in and see if he sees the same implications that I do:
Now that you've read the article, here's what caught my attention:
Entangled states are famously fragile: in most cases even a tiny disturbance will undo the entanglement. For this reason, current quantum technologies take great pains to isolate the microscopic systems they work with, and typically operate at temperatures close to absolute zero. The ICFO team, in contrast, heated a collection of atoms to 450 Kelvin, millions of times hotter than most atoms used for quantum technology. Moreover, the individual atoms were anything but isolated; they collided with each other every few microseconds, and each collision set their electrons spinning in random directions.
The researchers used a laser to monitor the magnetization of this hot, chaotic gas. The magnetization is caused by the spinning electrons in the atoms, and provides a way to study the effect of the collisions and to detect entanglement. What the researchers observed was an enormous number of entangled atoms — about 100 times more than ever before observed. They also saw that the entanglement is non-local — it involves atoms that are not close to each other. Between any two entangled atoms there are thousands of other atoms, many of which are entangled with still other atoms, in a giant, hot and messy entangled state.
What they also saw, as Jia Kong, first author of the study, recalls, “is that if we stop the measurement, the entanglement remains for about 1 millisecond, which means that 1000 times per second a new batch of 15 trillion atoms is being entangled. And you must think that 1 ms is a very long time for the atoms, long enough for about fifty random collisions to occur. This clearly shows that the entanglement is not destroyed by these random events. This is maybe the most surprising result of the work.”
The observation of this hot and messy entangled state paves the way for ultra-sensitive magnetic field detection. For example, in magnetoencephalography (magnetic brain imaging), a new generation of sensors uses these same hot, high-density atomic gases to detect the magnetic fields produced by brain activity. The new results show that entanglement can improve the sensitivity of this technique, which has applications in fundamental brain science and neurosurgery.
So what has me all exercised? Well, let's start at the beginning. Entanglement itself, and non-locality, are usually considered to be affairs that only occur at the quantum level, i.e., at the level of the sub-atomic particle. Many people, including myself, have often wondered if the various weird "special effects" of quantum mechanics - uncertainty and the "observer effect", non-locality, and entanglement - could occur at much larger scales. We've often discussed these types of questions in our vidchats and pondered what the implications might be if any were the case. Experiments have been done in recent years suggesting that all of these things can be manifested at the macro-cosmic, super-quantum level in addition to the microcosmic world of quantum mechanics.
But now we're being told that literally billions of atoms can exist in an entangled state with each other in a hot gas (450 Kelvin is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 177 degrees Celsius). Think of this gas as composed of many sets of atoms, say, sets a,b,c,... x, y, z and so on, where sets a and b are entangled with sets y and z, and c and d are entangled with sets w and x, and so on, with all these differently entangled sets bouncing around and commingling with each other in the hot gas. By the nature of the case, we're already well outside the range of the sub-atomic particle and well outside the range of the microcosmic, and not only dealing with billions of atoms, but moreover, atoms organized into systems of entanglement, or (dare I say it?) partial entanglement or analogy.
Or to put it country simple: entanglement is 'macrocosmic".
Now when I was reading all this, and especially the connection to using entanglements of this type to magnetic imaging of the brain, I couldn't help but think that perhaps there are much deeper connections. Already we've seen articles a few years ago from neuroscientists indicating that the mathematics required to map the human brain's activity adequately would have to be in a minimum of eleven dimensions. In other words, the brain - the three dimensional biophysical object, is one thing, but the mind, with all of its eleven or so dimensions, is not equivalent to it. (That poses an interesting question for dimensional analysis: between the eleven of the mind and the three of the brain, where are the other eight, and what are they doing? Is that "other eight" part of the coupling mechanism of the two? But I digress... you see? This is the type of thought that kept occurring as I pondered this article!)
So what does hot gas have to do with the mind? Well, as you can tell, I'm already well out onto the twig of high octane speculation, but here's where it becomes even more intriguing. The article seems to imply that the hot gas of the experiment was showing precisely such "partially entangled" or analogous systems. Those who know me know I am fascinated by analogies and their fundamental foundational role to human intelligence and thought. Here, we have a suggestion that a hot gas is exhibiting similar features both of coherence and incoherence. And that made me think of the famous quantum and plasma physicist David Bohm. Granted, a mere 450 degrees Kelvin is a long way from the temperatures one typically thinks of when one thinks of plasmas. Then again, think of atmospheric ionization during very powerful thunderstorms or tornadoes. Bohm, it might be recalled, suddenly stepped away from his plasma experiments when he concluded that they seemed to exhibit many of the features not only of life, but of intelligence... (Q.v. https://futurism.com/david-bohm-and-the-holographic-universe)
...and with that, we're chin to chin with group observers and group intention... think Dr. William Tiller...
See you on the flip side...