New theoretical evidence may show an influence on time, proving that the field of quantum physics can be an incredibly tricky place.
Quantum physics can be confusing to the point of a headache.
To be fair, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to quantum physics. We’ve been studying it since the days of Einstein, and by all accounts, we have barely scratched the surface.
One debate in the field is centered around an idea called retrocausality, something many physicists remain skeptical of. You can’t blame them, Einstein himself described the property as “spooky”. If we learned anything from Scooby Doo, it’s that spooky things can be a lot of trouble.
Recently, the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society published a paper by physicists Matthew S. Leifer and Matthew F. Pusey regarding retrocausality. The paper gives some theoretical support for retrocausal elements of quantum theory, something which might pique the interest of physicists everywhere.
So, let’s clear up the concept of retrocausality because it can get pretty confusing.
An influence can’t go back in time due to thermodynamic reasons, but that doesn’t mean that the past can’t be influenced. With retrocausality, a measurement made in the present can influence the properties of a particle in the past.Want to influence time? Study quantum physics! #retrocausality #quantumphysicsClick To Tweet
Previously, retrocausality didn’t have a lot of theoretical support. For most, the famous Bell tests didn’t deal in retrocausal influences. For Leifer and Pusey, however, the Bell tests can be interpreted as evidence for retrocausality.
The Bell tests were meant to show the existence of entanglement. It showed that there were unknown properties that allowed for “action-at-a-distance”. With Leifer and Pusey’s research, there is a new theory thrown into the hat.
Just allow for the possibility that the measurement of one particle can retrocausally influence another, and you don’t need action-at-a-distance. You just need retrocausality.
Mind you, we’re talking about a field where much is still unknown, so Leifer and Pusey are only convinced that these are potential interpretations rather than facts. That being said, if this research helps us fill in some of the unknowns behind quantum physics, then it is a step in the right direction.
Filling in the Gaps in Quantum Physics
If retrocausality is an element of quantum physics, it will ripple through the entire foundation of quantum theory.
But that might be a good thing because we don’t completely understand quantum theory. Retrocausality won’t show us the entire picture, but it is one more puzzle piece that we didn’t have before.
The research seems to imply that different interpretations of quantum physics are in order. According to Leifer, “This might be needed to construct the correct theory of quantum gravity, or even to resolve some issues in high-energy physics given that the unification of the other three forces is still up in the air in the light of LHC results.”
So far, there is no word on any actual experimentation to test retrocausality. Instead, it might be more valuable to apply it existing models within quantum physics. That way we can see if it helps to explain those models in theory.
And there is plenty of data for that task. With the amount of information we are getting from the large hadron collider over at CERN, researchers may have all the data they need.
So, it isn’t quite the flux capacitor we were all hoping for, but the edge of quantum physics is still showing us some mind-bending stuff. If you want more details, click here.