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An experiment conducted by a group of researchers may have resurrected a dusty quantum mechanics theory discovered back in 1927 and dismissed by Albert Einstein as being “too cheap”. Now the de Broglie-Bohm theory is back and it’s surreal.
The theory, which was first discovered by Louis de Broglie and then later developed by David Bohm, sees the light of day again after a photon experiment seems to support it.
The research was conducted by Quantum Physicists Aephraim Steinberg from the University of Toronto and focused on demonstrating how particles behave at a quantum level.
The team of scientists was able to observe the trajectory of photons as they made their way through one of two slits and then onto a screen. According to their findings, the particles act like billiard balls rolling on a table, however they don’t always follow the normal trajectories.
Since it does not follow a realistic pathway, the team of researchers calls this behavior “quantum surrealism”.
Let’s say you want to fire photons at two slits. Our human intuition would expect each photon to go through one of the slits and then reach a screen on the other side.
Contrary to that belief, what the photons do is they create a sort of interference system of light and dark bands, which they project onto the screen. It’s as if they are waves and they are passing through both slits at the same time.
These findings seem to support an old theory of quantum mechanics called the de Broglie-Bohm theory, which has been heavily criticized over the years, even by Einstein.
According to critics, the 1927 theory fails to explain the behavior of entangled photons in a realistic manner, therefore its results do not stand.
Nevertheless, Steinberg believes that their experiment offers a way of visualizing quantum mechanics in a similar way that the standard theory did and possibly in a more intuitive capacity.
According to the uncertainty principle, one can never accurately define both a particle’s position and its momentum. It is said that when we try to interact with a quantum system, we will end up disturbing it.
This means that if we try to fire photons at a screen, we will never know for sure how or which path it took to get there.
The classical interpretation of quantum mechanics is that there is no realistic trajectory between the screen and the light source. Therefore, we will not be able to determine a photon’s pathway unless we figure out a proper method of measurement.
Image Source: YaleScientific