Key idea: The discovery by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory could shed light on topics ranging from quantum computing to astrophysics.
Original author and publication date: Becky Ferreira (Vice) – January 4, 2023
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The quantum world keeps revealing its secrets. What else is there to be discovered?
From the article:
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have uncovered an entirely new kind of quantum entanglement, a phenomenon that causes particles to become weirdly linked, even across vast cosmic distances, reports a new study. The discovery allowed them to capture an unprecedented glimpse of the bizarre world inside atoms, the tiny building blocks of matter.
The mind-bending research resolves a longstanding mystery about the nuclei of atoms, which contain particles called protons and neutrons, and could help shed light on topics ranging from quantum computing to astrophysics.
The exciting discoveries took place at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a specialized facility at Brookhaven in New York that can accelerate charged atoms, known as ions, to almost light speed. When these ions collide—or even just pass near each other—their interactions expose the inner workings of atoms, which are governed by the trippy laws of quantum mechanics.
All kinds of weird stuff occurs in this tiny realm, but quantum entanglement in particular is so strange that Albert Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.” This phenomenon occurs when particles become intertwined with each other, causing their properties (such as spin or momentum) to sync up, even if they are billions of light years apart. Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated countless times in laboratories, but the entangled particles have always belonged to the same group and possessed the same charge, such as photons, which have no charge, or electrons, which are negatively charged.
Now, for the first time ever, scientists at Brookhaven have captured interference patterns that are created by the entanglement of two particles with different charges, a breakthrough that has opened up a completely new window into the mysterious innards of atoms that make up visible matter in the universe, according to a study published on Wednesday in Science Advances.
“There’s never been any measurement in the past of interference between distinguishable particles,” said Daniel Brandenburg, a physics professor at the Ohio State University who co-authored the new study, in a call with Motherboard. “That’s the discovery; the application is that we get to use it to do some nuclear physics.”