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A breakthrough in Quantum Teleportation as the first Qutrit is teleported A breakthrough in Quantum Teleportation as the first Qutrit is teleported

Physics

A breakthrough in Quantum Teleportation as the first Qutrit is teleported

A triple laser-split photon has been used to demonstrate the first ever qutrit teleportation and the possibilities for cryptography are breathtaking.

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Quantum teleportation is a well-founded discipline already, taking full advantage of the ‘spooky’ (Einstein’s own word for it) properties of quantum entanglement. For those not already aware of its uses, it’s essential to get Star Trek out of your head from the get-go, this is the transfer of information across vast distances, not people or things.

So far, the principle hasn’t been made to work on anything larger than a molecule.

The base unit that is teleported is known as a qubit, which devotees of quantum computing and teleportation alike will already be well aware of. This is the fundamental particle at the heart of quantum computing, an object that can be read as a one or zero (on or off/true or false) or a superposition of both.

Using the concept of quantum entanglement, whereby a particle is split, and any change made to, or state observed in, one half of this particle will instantaneously be imposed on the other, information can be transferred over vast distances at incredible speeds.

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The first proof of the tricksy concept of teleportation came over twenty years ago, in 1998. Since then the distance over which the information has been transferred has steadily increased from a matter of meters to over 100 kilometers, on the Earth’s surface at least, with Chinese scientists sending entangled objects into orbit to see quantum teleportation at a distance of 1400km.

And, in theory, there should be no upper limit on the distance apart which the sender and receiver elements of the qubit can be placed while still remaining entangled.

So that’s where quantum teleportation stands so far. Now it gets even more complicated and spooky. Teleporting a qutrit is the next step on. Like the qubit, it is able to be in a superposition of any of its states, but it is also able to occupy a state of one and two (like the qubit) or three.

This allows for a considerable amount more information to be sent at once. And if a particle with three different states sounds like a tricky thing to create – it is.

In a paper available on arxiv.org (and soon to be in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Letters), a research team has demonstrated the ability to create and teleport this new quantum particle.

The researchers took a photon (the fundamental particle of light) and used an arrangement of beam splitters, barium borate crystals, and lasers to split the photon’s path, into three separate but close paths, and thus create a three-part entangled object – their qutrit.

Their teleportation wasn’t flawless, however. They measured twelve different entanglements and received a 75% success rate but, for a first try at creating and teleporting a new quantum object, perfect wasn’t what the researchers were looking for.

Equally, the setup period to generate the qutrit was long and slow, but they remain undaunted. Because, for now, it is enough to prove that qutrit teleportation is possible, not just theoretically but practically.

“Combining previous methods of teleportation of two-particle composite states and multiple degrees of freedom, our work provides a complete toolbox for teleporting a quantum particle intact,” the researchers write, demonstrating that this is just a first step on the road to more practical applications in the future.

The team’s only immediate fear is that they may have been beaten to the punch. A report in Scientific American shows that a rival group, who have yet to have their research peer-reviewed, have also managed to teleport qutrits, although their efforts have only been recorded across 10 quantum states rather than 12.

Quantum teleportation is still an impressive and mysterious area of practical physics. It was initially named in 1993 by Charles Bennett, whose co-authors Asher Peres and William Wootters preferred the less science fiction term ‘telepheresis,’ and used the principle of quantum entanglement, an area of physics that still messes with the minds of many an undergraduate, to create practical applications.

This area of quantum behavior is what had Einstein freaking out so much that he described entanglement as ‘spooky action at a distance’ and feared that it may mean there was something fundamental lacking in our understanding of the quantum realm.

In fact, if it were not for the fact that the received information can only be taken up at the speed of light or less, the changing state brought about by one half of a qubit on the other would seem to break the theory of special relativity. But already we are seeing those bizarre anomalies preparing to be harnessed for everyday practical applications.

Quantum teleportation presents the possibility of an incredible leap forward in encrypted communications, with the potential to even create unhackable networks, where any attempt to break into the code being transmitted would be an attempt to violate the very laws of physics (and, in case you needed telling, those laws definitely can’t be broken, no matter how great your hacking skills).

This is because, in order to preserve the laws of physics, the state change that communicates the information from sender to receiver is destroyed once sent, preserving the fundamental principle in quantum physics known as ‘no-cloning.’

And this is what makes quantum teleportation so useful in encrypting data, since no copies can be made, and since any effort to ‘eavesdrop’ on communication will bring about a quantum state change, instantly revealing the act of eavesdropping. These same fundamental laws are also behind the handling errors which still need to be resolved in quantum computing.

The researchers behind the arxiv paper are certainly optimistic about the breakthrough which their experiment represents.

“We expect that our results will pave the way for quantum technology applications in high dimensions,” they write, “Since teleportation plays a central role in quantum repeaters and quantum networks.”

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Physics

Quantum experiment suggests objective reality doesn’t exist

A new paper drawing on an old thought experiment points out just how subjective the idea of objective reality might be.

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Quantum experiment suggests objective reality doesn’t exist

It turns out it’s not just Strawberry Fields where nothing is real, as a paper recently published in Science Advances points out. The paper, written by scientists from Heriot-Watt University in the UK, led by the University of Vienna’s Caslav Brukner, has put to the test some of the funkiest thinking about uncertainty in the quantum realm and seems to draw some surprisingly certain conclusions about how genuinely uncertain reality, at least at the quantum level, really is.

The paper’s thinking draws on the Wigner’s Friend thought experiment, devised by Eugene Wigner, way back in 1961. This philosophical problem revolves around asking what would happen if an observer of quantum measurement, with only two possible outcomes, perhaps a quantum coin toss or similar (think of the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment), were themselves being observed and reporting their results to their observer. So far, so straightforward, you might be thinking.

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But it turns out that, if the observation of the quantum observer is treated as a quantum state, the interaction between the two-state collapses creates a paradox. When does the state collapse of the observer happen? Is it when the observer sees the collapse of his quantum experiment or only when his observer is notified of this change?

Wigner’s experiment has generally been used to lend credence to the ‘Consciousness Causes Collapse’ interpretation of reality (also known as the ‘von Neumann-Wigner interpretation’) whereby it is human (or animal) consciousness itself, as an observer, that causes observed quantum superpositions to collapse when measured. Thus consciousness is treated differently from the rest of material reality. You can probably see why one or two materialists may object to this kind of thinking, which seems to treat the human mind as something not made out of matter in the same way as the rest of the universe. Even Wigner himself shifted away from the Consciousness Causes Collapse model in later years, partly due to his issues with how valid it was to apply it at the macro, rather than the purely quantum, scale.

However, this new research from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, under Caslav Brukner, seems to have validated Eugene Wigner’s original assumptions and undermined the idea of objective reality while it’s at it.

The Heriot-Watt team conducted a formal test of a second thought experiment from 1964, which built on Wigner’s, created by John Bell to pin down the reality or otherwise of quantum uncertainty. In Brukner’s test, six photons (three separate pairs) were entangled and used to replicate the role of both the observed quantum state from Wigner’s thought experiment and the observers. The first pair played the role of the observed quantum state, or ‘coin toss’ (in this case having its polarization measured), which then affected the two separate ‘observers’ represented by the other two-photon pairs. Over weeks of study, the team found examples of violations of so-called ‘Bell inequalities’ that act as a certain amount of proof of Bell’s theorem and Wigner’s wilder theories. The observer photons did seem to be producing clashing interpretations of the observed quantum collapse, suggesting each had their take on ‘objective’ reality.

These results may be modest in number but, if replicable, they have potentially significant implications Using other entangled photons as observers would seem to invalidate the need for a ‘conscious’ observer to collapse quantum states, but it also leaves a question mark hanging over whether all this can apply at the macro scale.

Whether all this means that we can throw away any concept of objective reality in our lives or is merely another example of how just plain weird the quantum realm that underpins our macro reality is maybe something to leave to the philosophers.

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Physics

Quantum teleportation between computer chips is now possible

And, it is using ‘spooky action at a distance’ of quantum entanglement.

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Quantum teleportation between computer chips is now possible

We’ve written about both quantum teleportation and quantum computing on this site before this last year, but, as it drew to a close, 2019 had one last breakthrough up its sleeve when it came to both fields. For the first time in history, quantum teleportation has successfully been demonstrated within computers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

In a paper published in Nature Physics, the team at Bristol University, working with the Technical University of Denmark and using computers in the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology (or QET) labs, managed to communicate data between separate chips, not using wi-fi or Bluetooth, but rather the ‘spooky action at a distance’  of quantum entanglement.

To do this, the team used two photons, whose quantum state had been entangled. Each entangled photon was placed in a different chip, isolated from one another, and state changes in one, triggered by a measurement, were then communicated (or ‘quantum teleported’) to the other. Quantum information was encoded into the photons, the information being specifically designed to minimize interference and maximize accuracy, a longstanding issue in quantum computing.

And the choice of the coded data certainly worked a treat. The fidelity of the information exchange across the experiments came in at a whopping 91%, a figure that could be a game-changer for quantum computing. As well as this information exchange, the experimental equipment also proved itself capable of such entanglement swapping, a task required by quantum repeaters and quantum networks, as well as achieving the four-photon GHZ states that are needed by both quantum computers and, if it should be possible, the quantum internet.

That said, the equipment needed was far from humble. The experiment required a lot of heavy-duty equipment, for such tiny scale changes, but the implications of its success for the future of computing are nonetheless pretty huge.

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The teams used regular silicon chips, with a nanoscale photon component (also known as ‘silicon-photonic circuitry’), proving that the current standard component for information technology can still be improved upon and incorporated into quantum computing. In their paper, the researchers express the hope that this lays the groundwork for “large-scale integrated photonic quantum technologies for communications and computations,” with lead researcher Jianwei Wang (who has since moved to a position at Peking University) stating that it may open the door for “Fully chip-based CMOS-compatible quantum communication and information processing networks.” This may only be the laboratory-based experimental beginnings, but a quantum computing industry may be just around the corner.

As we’ve covered before on this site, the potential for quantum computers to be hacking proof is immense and increasingly valuable in an increasingly cyber-insecure world where secure hardware could help to negate the cybersecurity skill shortage that is fuelling the current crisis. Not only that, but the qubit at the heart of the quantum computer, which has three potential states rather than the binary on-off ‘bits’ of a conventional computer, allows for processing power many times that of any computers so far seen, revolutionizing the processing capabilities of our thinking machines and making previously unimaginable science (which would require mammoth levels of number crunching) not only possible but even easy.

The quantum entanglement at the heart of the QET Lab experiment is a phenomenon that caused Einstein headaches, and a certain amount of conceptual anxiety, and which is still very mysterious and not fully understood (or even fully proven, to the demanding criteria of science). But, even allowing for its elements of mystery, recent years we have seen it being given practical applications, being observed in ever-larger objects (almost the width of a human hair!), had it conceptually proved using the light from distant quasars, seen it demonstrated over record-breaking distances (from the nearest edges of space in a Chinese satellite) and even (perhaps most remarkably) captured on camera.

The science is still in its infancy, but with strides like this being made with ever more frequency, we can say with increasing certainty that the age of the quantum computer is coming. The only question that remains is just how soon?

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Physics

New superconductor opens the way for a new era of supercomputers

Researchers have discovered a new super-conductive miracle material that may become the new silicon for the coming generations of supercomputer.

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New superconductor opens the way for a new era of supercomputers

The suitably heroically named Nick Butch and his team from NIST (the National Institute of Standards in Technology – not a secret superhero group as you might expect from their moniker) have created the curiously anonymous sounding UTe2, a superconductor for the future.

It is a compound uranium ditelluride, and it may just be able to solve one of the most troubling niggles lying in the path of creating the perfect quantum computer, as laid out in Butch’s paper in Science.

“This is potentially the silicon of the quantum information age,” Butch says of his new superconductor, You could use uranium ditelluride to build the qubits of an efficient quantum computer.”

But while he is now fully confident of its potentially revolutionary usefulness in quantum computing, superconductivity was a chance property discovery for Butch and his team. Initially, magnetism was what had them curious, and they experimented with plummeting UTe2 to super-low temperatures in the hopes that this would magnetize it.

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While they had no success giving UTe2 a magnetic field, they did succeed in discovering its secret superconductive superpower. And it really is a significantly more effective superconductor than most of the currently used materials. This is because, unlike the majority of materials, which are spin singlets, UTe2 is a spin-triplet.

The cooper pairs that lead to superconductivity in an appropriately low-temperature material can be orientated differently in UTe2, allowing them to be aligned in parallel rather than opposition, and reducing the possibility of any external threat to quantum coherence which might jeopardize UTe2’s superconductive properties.

And this is one of the reasons why UTe2 would make such a useful component in quantum computing.

“These parallel spin pairs could help the computer remain functional,” Butch explains, “It can’t spontaneously crash because of quantum fluctuations.”

For those not already entirely in the know, a quantum computer differs from a conventional computer by taking advantage of quantum mechanics, particularly the properties of superposition and quantum entanglement.

An old fashioned computer is made up of a vast number of bits, which can be switched to on or off, one or zero (the kind of binary machine mind that we have become accustomed to imagining, as exemplified by the screeds of green on black code in The Matrix).

By contrast, a quantum computer is made of qubits, analogous to bits but differing in that they can occupy one position, a zero position, or a superposition of both at the same time. Multiply this number of possibilities up by the number of qubits that could make up a quantum computer, and the opportunities for sheer numbers of configurations is mind-boggling.

It also means that a quantum computer can make probabilistic calculations in a way that a conventional computer can’t, which can be incredibly useful in Science.

However, there is still no one accepted way of making a quantum computer. One of the less explored methods is topological quantum computing, at the moment a purely theoretical approach, that has received less love than the others for one or two key reasons.

The topological approach would, in theory, be a more stable method of quantum computing but it is based on encoding qubits onto a very particular variety of quasi-particle, one that, as of the current moment, has yet to be proven to exist.

If this minor lacuna could be overcome, then UTe2’s unique properties might be the breakthrough that makes the topological approach a possibility.

And, due to its higher stability, a working topological computer would be substantially more economical on its qubits than other computer types, which need to use spare qubits, over and above the ones used for calculating, to allow for error correction.

So far quantum computers in general, not just of the topological flavor, have been somewhat slow in moving from theoretical possibility to practical application, although there are already working examples out in the world processing data.

In 2015 Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at Ames Research Centre, a space dedicated to creating a working quantum computer displayed the world’s first fully operational quantum computer made by D-Wave Systems and funded by NASA. However, to date, since that grand unveiling, only two of these computers have ever been built.

IBM has also successfully built quantum computers and even opened them up to use by the public via the cloud, allowing their probabilistic thinking machine to be used to solve equations, do Science and even (sort of) work out how to travel backward in time.

But it’s not just the potential of UTe2 in quantum computing that excites Nick Butch and his team.

“Exploring it further might give us insight into what stabilizes these parallel-spin superconductors,” Butch explains.

This is because the realm of the superconductors, although much of the underlying physics is now well understood, still has mysteries for us to crack. Not the least of which is the fact that we don’t know which materials when putting under the right, super-low temperature conditions, could become superconductors. UTe2 may be a source of unexpected insights to come.

“A major goal of superconductor research is to be able to understand superconductivity well enough that we know where to look for undiscovered superconductor materials.” Butch says, “Right now we can’t do that. What about them is essential? We are hoping this material will tell us more.”

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Physics

Quantum capers: introducing a common sense guide to Quantum Physics

Quantum physics has long baffled even the greatest minds in science.

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Quantum capers: introducing a common sense guide to Quantum Physics

We’re willing to wager that you’re inclined to place a great deal of emphasis on experiences that you consider to provide tangible evidence. Take a walk along the beach, for example.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself beside the sea, you’ll listen to the crashing of waves. You’ll watch the people, water-bound vehicles and buoys, confirming your belief that the ocean becomes deeper the further afield you venture.

Even if you close your eyes and use headphones to block out sound, it’s easy to tell where you are. One deep lungful of air will fill your nostrils with the unmistakable scent of the sea.

In Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction, Dr. Danko Georgiev explains how your conscious experiences may, in fact, be a fundamental ingredient of physical reality and much more reliable than it is commonly believed. Many of us are laypeople when it comes to this subject.

It may even be fair to suggest our knowledge and exposure to quantum physics stems entirely from pop culture. Thankfully, with the aid of Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction, easy-to-digest information is now available at the tips of our fingers.

Utilizing case studies in his own research, Dr. Georgiev’s book explains the difference between typical brain processes and conscious experiences – and the role that quantum physics plays in this.

The tome helps see the human condition through an entirely new perspective and gain a hitherto-untapped understanding of the link between our mind, brain, and body.

It’s a must-read that will leave you questioning all you thought that you knew – and hungry to place this new information into practice.

I know nothing about physics

Then Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction is a book for you. Dr. Georgiev dedicates some 20% of his tome to explaining necessary background information for those new to his world.

This does not mean that anybody with a working knowledge of the subject is not catered for. Once this basic understanding has been established, the remainder of the content doesn’t hold back on the weird and wonderful world opened up by quantum physics. All the same, there is no need to be intimidated if you’re a curious newcomer.

The clue is in the name – A Gentle Introduction. Ultimately, Dr. Georgiev is a successful scientist. He does not hold back on information throughout the book, and at no point does he insult the reader’s intelligence.

What sets this book apart, however, is the effort Dr. Georgiev takes to bring new readers into his world.

There is no intellectual snobbery or scientific gatekeeping at play here. If you’re interested in quantum physics, you will find plenty to learn and enjoy.

Throughout his introductory chapters, Dr. Georgiev discusses the difference between the human brain and mind, and how these variances pertain to consciousness and experience.

In a nutshell, this could be described as the difference between hard science and philosophy. Alternatively, in the words of the good doctor himself, the difference between science and science theory.

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You’ll find as many references to Aristotle in the pages of this book as you will Richard Feynman or Erwin Schrödinger. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to learn. The rest will take care of itself.

What will I actually learn from this book?

Several core subjects are covered in Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction, all of which share one common aim.

To broaden the general understanding of quantum physics, and to aid us in understanding the role of the quantum realm in making sense of the world around us.

Let’s return to our beachside example for a moment. If were to follow the understanding of classical physics, neuroscientists would lead us to the unpalatable conclusion that your conscious mind is playing tricks on you.

While you may think that your mind will never steer you wrong in describing sensations and experiences, it’s not always to be trusted. For example, it may be intuitively obvious that our conscious experiences can affect the physical world through our actions, or that we can exercise our free will by making active choices.

This is referred to as classical determinism and implies that we are puppets of a string. Classical determinism makes us believe that we are suffering from illusions of intuition, through which we conveniently cover our lack of free will and inability to make a difference in a clockwork universe.

Fortunately for us, a quantum revolution originated in the 1920s shattered the foundations of classical physics and its associated paradoxes. Modern quantum physics has established, through numerous experiments, that we live in a quantum universe full of dynamic possibilities.

Dr. Georgiev’s book explains that what we write off as emotion and memory may actually be connected to something broader. Through our senses, we perceive the surrounding world and react to it.

Our actions are not predetermined with absolute certainty, though. Our conscious experiences, modeled by quantum information-theoretic states in the brain, determine the physical probabilities for possible future courses of action through the celebrated Schrödinger equation.

Once measured, the inherent free will manifested by quantum systems allows us to choose a single actual course of action. This is then transmitted from our brain to the muscles in our body, and the surrounding world.

Ultimately, physics govern everything around us. Every action, every memory, and every sensation. The upshot is that we are not just passive spectators, but play an active role in choosing our own destiny within the extent of what is physically possible. To coin a famous phrase, we have no strings to hold us down. Not physically, at least.

The pages of Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction is devoted to helping a layperson understand this, and apply the teachings to their own life.

Who is Dr. Danko Georgiev?

Dr. Danko Georgiev is an established neuroscientist, working from the Institute for Advanced Study in Varna, Bulgaria. Dr. Georgiev has published a wide range of papers based on his work and experiments, many of which have been cited by academic peers.

With a particular interest in the realm of quantum physics, Dr. Georgiev has earned a reputation as one of the great thinkers in European science.

The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the most reputable centers of quantum physics research in the world, with ongoing studies continuing to evolve and yield results.

Just some of the subjects being explored include the relationship between consciousness, experience, and the human brain, and the impact that quantum physics can place upon human endeavor and achievement.

Dr. Georgiev is interested in unlocking the secrets of the human condition through the use of quantum physics. Mathematics, philosophy, and mechanics are also incorporated into this work.

If you think that this all sounds terribly complicated and difficult to understand, you’d be correct. That’s why Dr. Georgiev and his colleagues work so tirelessly in this field – so that we do not have to.

Thankfully, Dr. Georgiev also found the time in his schedule to put pen to paper and write Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction. The publication of this book ensures that those of us without a Ph.D. education can learn about this subject – without alienating anybody with a core understanding of the matter in hand.

You can read more of Dr. Georgiev’s work, alongside that of his peers, in Quanta.

This open-access journal is a veritable treasure trove of data and information about all things quantum physics. The more time you spend in Dr. Georgiev’s world, the more you will be keen to learn about the unseen universe around us.

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Mirror neutrons are particles that could make alternative dimensions a reality

Has science finally found a way to visit other mirror Universes, or even a multiverse, beyond our own?

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Science fiction has long played with ideas of other, parallel dimensions that are dark mirrors of our own, from that episode of Star Trek where Spock has an evil pointy beard to Stranger Thing’s terrifying ‘upside-down.’

But truth can be at least as strange as fiction and a team of researchers in the USA, led by Leah Broussard, may be on the verge of proving that our Universe is far from alone.

For many decades several theories in physics have relied on the possibility of ours being just one of possibly infinite numbers of connected universes. This isn’t just because scientists are sometimes sci-fi nerds too (although we’re sure plenty are) but rather that the existence other parallel dimensions, or connected universes, could answer some of the remaining fundamental mysteries in physics.

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As long ago 1957 Hugh Everett claimed that the implications behind quantum theory meant that there had to be an infinite number of parallel universes.

The physics behind his thinking is pretty complicated, but mostly this is his explanation for the famous Schrodinger’s Cat experiment – the cat in a box that is simultaneously dead or alive depending on the quantum state of a single electron.

Put simply, all electrons are simultaneously in one of two opposing positions (either spinning clockwise or anti-clockwise) and only when they are observed do they ‘choose’ one single location.

Everett’s Many Worlds theory allowed every electron in existence to simultaneously be both, by allowing for parallel realities to be created by each possible action that could be made. This means that, after being put in the box, Schrodinger’s cat would split reality into two new parallel realities, one where it dies and one where it survives.

Given the number of particles in the Universe and the number of different states they could enter, this quickly creates a nearly infinite number of parallel possible realities, all existing side by side.

Other physicists have used parallel realities to explain how a finite possible arrangement of matter could exist in a potentially infinite universe. Brian Greene, for instance, draws on string theory for his explanations.

Writing in his book The Hidden Reality, he explores how the ten or eleven dimensions of superstrings (compared to the four dimensions we humans are aware of) help to bring together the models of Newtonian and quantum physics but also suggest that we may exist on one of many membrane Universes, which individual fundamental particles can move between.

Even the legendary Stephen Hawking’s final, posthumously published, paper dealt with the multiverse (an idea he confessed to never having been very comfortable with) with particular focus on string theory.

But it’s not just string theory, or attempting to bring together quantum and Newtonian physics, that causes physicists to look to alternate dimensions. There are big cosmological questions based on our observations of the Universe beyond our planet that cause us to query whether unseen realities may be impacting our own.

One of the most significant of these is the so-called ‘cold spot’ in the Universe, first observed in 2004 and confirmed in 2013, which the inflationary principle (the most commonly accepted model for the creation of our Universe) is at a loss to explain.

The most exotic explanation so far, offered by Tom Shanks of Durham University, suggests that it may be evidence of a collision between our Universe and a Bubble Universe, a parallel Universe created by the nature of the expansion of our own.

There is also the tongue-twisty ‘cosmological lithium problem.’ This is based on a discrepancy in the amount of lithium-7 that exists in our Universe compared to the amount that any modeling of the Big Bang should have created.

And, while the amount of helium and hydrogen in our Universe are utterly consistent with the mathematical models, physicists are still scratching their heads as to where the lithium has got to. Not all theorists would agree, but parallel Universes are certainly considered a possibility by some.

One of the critical arguments against theorizing about multiple universes and parallel realities, as much as they might help the mathematical models work, is the impossibility of testing whether, or in what form, they exist.

Recent articles in the New York Times and Scientific American by Paul Davies and George Ellis prove that the multiverse skeptics have a voice too, as well as a challenge to all those hidden dimension theorists – they want evidence. Testable evidence.

If so, those skeptics should now be turning their eyes to a laboratory in eastern Tennessee. Because 2019 could finally be the year when the walls between our realities are broken down. That may sound like hyperbole, but Leah Broussard and her team of physicists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are currently preparing to make (or change) history.

The team at Oak Ridge, in east Tennessee, have designed an experiment to test for extra-dimensional travel, building on observations of the behavior of neutrons made in the 1990s in two anomalous findings.

The unexpected state change observed in those neutron experiments in the ‘90s has had physicists wondering for decades. Leah Broussard admits that, if her experiment were successful, it would be “pretty wacky,” but it could also uncover a secret shadow dimension existing parallel to the Universe we can see all around us.

In two separate experiments back in the ‘90s, neutrons were released and left to break down. Neutrons, when they decay, should all turn into protons. They should also do this within a consistent period of time.

However, the experiment in the 1990s saw one set of neutrons trapped in a magnetic field and funneled into a so-called ‘bottle trap’ and the other left free to be detected once they appeared as protons in a nuclear reactor stream.

The laws of physics would suggest that all things being equal, these fundamental particles should have decayed at the same rate as each other. But, in reality, the bottle trapped neutrons were 9 seconds quicker in turning into protons (at 14 minutes and 39 seconds) than the positively lazy free neutrons (which took 14 minutes and 48).

The difference may seem negligible to an outsider, but to physicists, who had no natural explanation for the difference, it left a lot more questions than answers.

The answer hit upon by Leah Broussard and her team at Oak Ridge is that the slow neutrons have not just been sitting around waiting to change states, but rather that they have been on a journey – to another dimension.

It may sound like a wild hypothesis, but there is solid physics behind it, based on the theory that some of the neutrons have been able to oscillate themselves into briefly becoming mirror neutrons, leaving our Universe for a few seconds before returning again to finally decay into a proton.

In the 2019 Oak Park experiment, a stream of neutrons will be fired at an impenetrable wall, with a neutron detector set up on the far side. Broussard has made it clear that she expects the sensor to measure zero hits. After all, there’s a literally impenetrable wall stood in between it and the stream of neutrons.

However, if any of the neutrons are able to oscillate into a mirror state if only briefly, this could see them slip into a parallel dimension long enough to clear the impenetrable wall (which won’t exist in the parallel reality) and reach the neutron detector.

As such, if the detector registers anything at all, this would mean something truly profound for 21st Century physics – evidence of the existence of other dimensions.

In an interview with NBC in the US, Leah Broussard was cautious but excited. How would she feel, after all, to be proving the skeptics wrong? What would it mean for our conception of our Universe?

“When you discover something new like that,” Broussard said, “The game totally changes.”

Evidence of other dimensions truly would utterly transform the game of physics and cosmology combined. And, with it, our very idea of existing in a singular, lonely Universe.

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