Happy Anniversary To The Test That Showed ‘God Does Play Dice’ With The Universe
“Quantum mechanics is one of the most philosophically profound and counterintuitive ideas that humanity has ever encountered. It has stood the test of time not because of its beauty, elegance, or the compelling nature of the theory, but rather because its results agree with experiment. Quantum physics was only reluctantly embraced by a great many scientists because of how divorced its rules are not only from our own experience, but of one of the great ideas of science: that we can learn the rules of nature to make accurate predictions about our own future. There’s a fundamental limit to our predictive ability, and quantum physics is what dictates that limit.
It is not the job of physics to make you comfortable with the Universe; its role is to describe reality. In that, quantum physics is an unparalleled success. But philosophically, what Bohr said all those years ago, ‘Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it,’ is still true.”
Quantum physics is weird. Part of why it met with such resistance is that it’s so divorced from our normal experience, and so counterintuitive as far as what it predicts. This was illustrated beautifully by the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox, which appeared to show a contradiction: two entangled particles, separated by great distances, appeared to ‘know’ whether the other one was measured or not, at least as far as statistical outcomes go. Yet that would result in a transmission of information faster-than-light, a no-go in relativity.
Well, that paradox is only a true paradox if you apply classical laws to the Universe. Bell’s inequality, developed in the 1960s, showed that there’s a difference between what quantum mechanics predicts and what a theory of local, hidden, deterministic variables predicts.