Indeterminism and entanglement


Did you sur­vi­ved the Schrödinger’s cat expe­rience revi­si­ted ? Does the new inter­pre­ta­tion of the wave/particle dua­li­ty no lon­ger hold any secrets for you ? Then you are rea­dy to conti­nue your explo­ra­tion of quan­tum phy­sics by dis­co­ve­ring inde­ter­mi­nism and entan­gle­ment in a new light !

According to the clas­si­cal inter­pre­ta­tion, inde­ter­mi­nism seems to call into ques­tion the prin­ciple of cau­sa­li­ty. And the entan­gle­ment seems to defy the prin­ciple of loca­li­ty and the speed of light. However, if we approach these prin­ciples from the point of view of infor­ma­tion and inter­de­pen­dence of phe­no­me­na, they are sim­ply inter­pre­table. That’s what we’re going to find out in this article !


Quantum Indeterminism, or causality in question


Indeterminism stems from the idea that events have no cause in quan­tum phy­sics. The uncer­tain­ty prin­ciple for­mu­la­ted by the phy­si­cist Werner Heisenberg in 1927 is an illus­tra­tion of this. It states that it is impos­sible to deter­mine the speed and the posi­tion of an elec­tron accu­ra­te­ly and simul­ta­neous­ly.

Heisenberg defines cau­sa­li­ty as « the abi­li­ty to infer the posi­tion of a par­ticle when the posi­tion of the same par­ticle is known a moment before » [1]. While in clas­si­cal phy­sics one can of course apply the prin­ciple of cau­sa­li­ty to pre­dict the evo­lu­tion of a sys­tem at any moment in time, in quan­tum phy­sics this is not pos­sible. When one wants to know the posi­tion of a par­ticle, one must deve­lop a device in which one sends a pho­ton to the par­ticle. At the moment when the pho­ton strikes the par­ticle, the posi­tion of the pho­ton is revea­led, and conse­quent­ly that of the par­ticle.

But this device dis­turbs the sys­tem, the shock with the pho­ton pro­jec­ting the par­ticle to an inde­ter­mi­nate and inde­ter­mi­nable loca­tion. Therefore it is impos­sible to recons­truct the tra­jec­to­ry of the par­ticle, since from one mea­su­re­ment to the next we never know where it will be. In fact, we can’t even be sure that the par­ticle has a tra­jec­to­ry bet­ween two obser­va­tions.


Phenomena appear dependently

If the dis­rup­tion of the sys­tem pre­vents us from kno­wing the posi­tion of the par­ticle at the pre­vious moment, it is like saying that we lack the infor­ma­tion that would allow us to apply the prin­ciple of cau­sa­li­ty. However, « it is not that [we must] com­ple­te­ly reject the idea that events have causes, but only the idea that [we can] apply the prin­ciple of cau­sa­li­ty for the pur­pose of pre­dic­tion » [2] explains the French phi­lo­so­pher of science Michel Bitbol. The only thing we can say is that there are phe­no­me­na. For which it is impos­sible to dis­so­ciate the object from the act of obser­va­tion.

We can only esta­blish a rela­tion­ship bet­ween the two phe­no­me­na, which appear depen­dent­ly. But that doesn’t mean the­re’s no cause in quan­tum phy­sics. Actually, for Michel Bitbol :


« There are only no abso­lute causes, no intrin­si­cal­ly exis­ting causes, but there are causes that are rela­tive to the very act of obser­ving phe­no­me­na. So the phe­no­me­na are not without cause. They are cau­sed by all the fac­tors that involve the mea­su­ring devices that detect the phe­no­me­na. » [3]


In the phe­no­me­non of quan­tum entan­gle­ment, things also appear depen­dent­ly.


Quantum entanglement, or instant communication



The term « entan­gle­ment » was first used by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, in res­ponse to the EPR para­dox high­ligh­ted by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen.


The EPR paradox

In order to unders­tand the EPR para­dox, we have to go back to the basis of Einstein’s theo­ry of gene­ral rela­ti­vi­ty, and in par­ti­cu­lar to the loca­li­ty prin­ciple. This prin­ciple states that an object can only be influen­ced by its imme­diate envi­ron­ment. So two objects sepa­ra­ted by a large dis­tance can­not theo­re­ti­cal­ly influence each other.

The EPR para­dox is a thought expe­riment (thus not a demons­tra­tion) whose aim is to demons­trate that quan­tum mecha­nics is incom­plete. It pre­dicts that par­ticles can be in cor­re­la­ted states – i.e. there are cor­re­la­tions in the mea­su­re­ment results – even if they are very dis­tant.


This is the phe­no­me­non of entan­gle­ment, also cal­led non-locality. Two entan­gled par­ticles can­not be consi­de­red as inde­pendent, regard­less of the dis­tance bet­ween them. These par­ticles form a unique sys­tem. The obser­va­tion shows that acting on one of the par­ticles has an ins­tan­ta­neous impact on the other. Thus a mea­su­re­ment ope­ra­tion will be valid for both par­ticles, because their quan­tum states depend on each other.

Everything seems to hap­pen as if the infor­ma­tion is trans­mit­ted ins­tan­ta­neous­ly – i.e. at a speed grea­ter than the speed of light – from one par­ticle to ano­ther. A prio­ri this is not the case, because the states of the par­ticles are coor­di­na­ted and do not allow infor­ma­tion to be trans­mit­ted.

The French phy­si­cist Alain Aspect was the first to demons­trate the entan­gle­ment of par­ticles, in expe­ri­ments conduc­ted from 1975 onwards [4]. Today, entan­gle­ment is consi­de­red to be accep­ted.


Then how do we explain the quantum entanglement ?

According to Nassim Haramein’s theo­ry, when infor­ma­tion appears at one point in the uni­verse, it appears simul­ta­neous­ly at each point. This is because the uni­verse is holo­gra­phic (see the article The frac­tal and holo­gra­phic uni­verse). In that sense, indeed, there is no trans­mis­sion of infor­ma­tion. Information just appear depen­dent­ly in eve­ry point of the uni­verse.

According to the phy­si­cist, the entan­gle­ment reveals the pre­sence of worm­holes. Wormholes are a kind of short­cut in space that allows two regions to com­mu­ni­cate inde­pen­dent­ly of the speed of light. It shows in fact that in the holo­frac­to­gra­phic uni­verse the equa­li­ty ER = EPR theo­ri­zed by Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind is veri­fied.

einstein-rosen-bridgeWhat does ER = EPR mean ? According to these two phy­si­cists, worm­holes (ER, or Einstein-Rosen bridges – illus­tra­tion oppo­site) and quan­tum entan­gle­ment (EPR) are indeed one and the same thing [5]. In other words, remo­ving two entan­gled par­ticles is like for­ming a worm­hole bet­ween them.

Nassim Haramein talks about the inter­de­pen­dence of all pro­tons in the uni­verse. Therefore, from his point of view, it is not just a ques­tion of two par­ticles that would be in an entan­gled state on the one hand and inde­pendent of the rest of the par­ticles in the uni­verse on the other. For him, not only does infor­ma­tion flow bet­ween two pro­tons connec­ted through a worm­hole, but also bet­ween two pro­tons connec­ted through seve­ral pro­tons and worm­holes. Thus there is ins­tan­ta­neous quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion bet­ween all the pro­tons in the uni­verse. That is why he cal­led his theo­ry « the connec­ted uni­verse ».


What about on a human scale ?

What does this ques­tio­ning and dis­co­ve­ry have to do with our dai­ly expe­rience, you may ask ? As human beings, we are made up of cells, which are them­selves made up of atoms, which are them­selves made up of pro­tons. Therefore we are an inte­gral part of the weft that connects all the pro­tons to each other.

fractals-and-determinismI invite you to dis­co­ver the article Is the uni­verse deter­mi­nis­tic ? to conti­nue this reflec­tion. The first part of the article deals with the prin­ciple of cau­sa­li­ty from the point of view not of inde­ter­mi­nism, but of its coun­ter­part, deter­mi­na­cy. For all that, it is not a ques­tion of consi­de­ring that inde­ter­mi­nism is to quan­tum par­ticles what deter­mi­nism is to our dai­ly life. In the light of my expe­rience, Michel Bitbol’s insights and the theo­ry of the connec­ted uni­verse, we will go beyond this ques­tio­ning. And to do so, to show how deter­mi­nism and inde­ter­mi­nism are in fact com­ple­men­ta­ry and act at all scales. The second part of the article high­lights my per­so­nal expe­rience by sho­wing the fili­gree weft that connects us all.



Key points

  • In quan­tum phy­sics, the causes are not intrin­sic to objects, they are depen­ding on the act of obser­va­tion.

  • All pro­tons are entan­gled in the uni­verse : quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ins­tan­ta­neous.




Notes and references

[1] HEISENBERG Werner, quo­ted by BITBOL Michel (January 18, 2013), Dissiper les pro­prié­tés intrin­sèques et l’existence intrin­sèque, In : Fleurs du dhar­ma, Mind and Life XXVI – Esprit, cer­veau et matière, pp.9–10, free trans­la­tion
[2] BITBOL Michel, Dissiper les pro­prié­tés intrin­sèques et l’existence intrin­sèque, op.cit., p.10, free trans­la­tion
[3] Ibid., p.11, free trans­la­tion
[4] ASPECT Alain. (octo­ber 15, 1976). Proposed expe­riment to test the non­se­pa­ra­bi­li­ty of quan­tum mecha­nics, Physical Review D, vol. 14, n°8
[5] MALDACENA Juan et SUSSKIND Leonard. (July 11, 2013). Cool hori­zons for entan­gled black holes.



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