New research suggests quantum theory doesn’t follow the rules of “reality”. Let’s see how hypothetical grasshoppers might lead us to the multiverse.
Who knew that grasshoppers could help us understand quantum theory?
Apparently, they can. At least, theoretically speaking they can. Recently, two physicists, Olga Goulko and Adrian Kent, have released a paper that wrestles with something called the grasshopper problem.
The grasshopper problem is a relatively new puzzle for the field of geometry. The problem is simple to state, but very hard to solve. However, solving it may help us understand the Bell inequalities and so mathematicians and physicists worldwide have attempted to posit an answer.
It works like this:
Let’s say that a grasshopper lands on a random point in a lawn, then jumps at a fixed distance in a random direction. What shape does the lawn have to be so that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after it jumps?
Seems simple, right? In truth, it’s anything but. It sounds like something that Euclid (the Greek father of modern geometry) would have dreamed up. It’s not, though; the grasshopper problem is, surprisingly, pretty new.It seems simple, but the Grasshopper problem is serious business for physicists. #causeit'squantumClick To Tweet
Because the problem is rather new, researchers have been looking at it through a modern lens. Instead of merely trying to solve the problem, they are getting deep into the variables. Those variables are pretty important, too, because they may help us resolve Bell’s inequalities.
Let’s start with Goulko and Kent’s work.
Today Grasshoppers, Tomorrow the Multiverse
Conventional theories state that a disc-shaped lawn is optimal to solve the grasshopper problem, but Goulko and Kent know better.
According to them, the optimal lawn shape changes depending on the distance of the jump. For distances smaller than 1/π1/2 (the radius of a circle of area 1, or approximately 0.56), for example, a cogwheel shape is best. For larger distances, other shapes such as a ‘three bladed fan’ or a row of stripes is best.
Oh, and it makes a difference if the surface of the lawn is flat or spherical, but I’ll get back to that.
Sometimes the pieces of the lawn are connected, sometimes they are not. It all depends on variables, which is where Bell’s inequalities come in.
One of the open problems regarding the Bell inequalities is determining what the optimal bounds are. These bounds are violated by quantum theory when quantum correlations get measured on a sphere at any angle between 0 and 90 degrees.
As it turns out, that problem is pretty much equal to the problem of determining the shape of the lawn when it is spherical rather than flat. Goulko and Kent only analyzed the flat version in their paper, though they don’t think it’s a stretch to apply their method to the spherical case.
The interesting part is that, when accounting for additional constraints, it might be possible to finally resolve the problem of optimal bounds for the Bell inequalities.
Why is that so interesting? Well, if we can understand the optimal bounds for the Bell inequalities, we may be able to map out universes that we can’t see. How’s that for a final frontier?
Exploring the Possibilities of the Multiverse
The idea of multiple universes isn’t exactly new, but if we can solve the Bell inequalities, it may be possible to prove their existence. At least, it may be possible to theoretically prove their existence.
The problem here is that what we understand about our own universe wouldn’t even fill a relatively sized thimble. Many great minds have even posited that our universe isn’t even real; they say it’s “holographic”.
Adding to that, we have theories about pocket universes, alternate dimensions, and the Upside Down. Okay, that last one was from Stranger Things, but just try and prove to me that the Upside Down isn’t there.
One thing you always run into with multiverse theory, though, is quantum entanglement. See, many would believe that other universes and other dimensions are the same thing, but they aren’t. They are entirely different realities, but they could be linked through the quantum fabric of reality-at-large.
For now, though, we can only speculate. Studying one universe is like an ant studying a deity. Studying the multiverse is going to be a much harder nut to crack. That said, we currently don’t have any better leads on it than quantum theory.
And the latest leap in quantum theory is coming from a hypothetical grasshopper. Don’t you just love quantum physics?