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Einstein's brilliant mistake: Entangled states - Chad Orzel


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When you think about Einstein and physics, E=mc^2 is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But one of his greatest contributions to the field actually came in the form of an odd philosophical footnote in a 1935 paper he co-wrote -- which ended up being wrong. Chad Orzel details Einstein's "EPR" paper and its insights on the strange phenomena of entangled states.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Like this lesson? Check out three more physics lessons by the same educator.

Particles and waves the central mystery of quantum mechanics

What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

Schrödinger's cat: A thought experiment in quantum mechanics

While it took thirty years for Bell to show how the EPR argument might be tested, since the early 1970’s it’s been tested numerous times. A detailed explanation of how these experiments work can be found in these two Uncertain Principles
blog posts. Scientific American’s editors made a humorous video called: Quantum Entanglement: The Movie and followed it up with a visit to a lab at Colgate University where Prof. Enrique Galvez and his students do experiments on entanglement. You can also see a much more complicated apparatus for working with entangled states in Prof. Jeff Kimble’s lab at Caltech in this animated video from Ph.D. Comics. Kimble discusses some of the difficulties in detecting subtle quantum effects, which are also explored here and here.

Read a detailed discussion of the EPR paper and the issues it raises. Some topics are still inspiring discussion in physics, as seen in this 2014 appreciation of John Bell’s work.

Read it and learn why this theorem was debated for so many years! Watch Bell himself discussing some of these exact ideas!
The university of Toronto now awards a biennial John Stewart Bell Prize for Research on Fundamental Issues in Quantum Mechanics and Their Applications. See who has won this prestigious award in the past.

Studying the implications of entanglement has helped inspire a great deal of work on quantum information, both theoretical and experimental. One of the major figures on the experimental side is Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger. Watch his lecture given at the Institute of Physics in the UK and learn from the physicist himself. Entanglement is also critical for quantum computing. Could an animated version help you understand a little better? Watch this Ph.D. Comics video: Quantum Computers Animated.

While most discussions of entanglement involve two particles of the same type, it’s possible to entangle light with atoms and vice versa. This blog post explains one way of doing that. This is important because it makes it possible to “teleport” quantum states from one location to another, which might someday allow a sort of “quantum Internet” connecting quantum computers at different locations. The physics of quantum teleportation is explained in this blog post, using stuffed animals to illustrate. Watch Teleportation of Toddler Toys. How much fun is that? Can you think of another way to portray quantum teleportation to an audience so that everyone will understand? Try sketching a storyboard and see what you can come up with.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Chad Orzel
  • Director Camilla Gunborg Pedersen, Zsuzsanna Banyai
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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