Understanding quantum physics through simple experiments: from wave-particle duality to Bell’s theorem

Por • 2 jul, 2018 • Sección: Ciencia y tecnología

Ish Dhand, Adam D’Souza, Varun Narasimhachar, Neil Sinclair, Stephen Wein, Parisa Zarkeshian, Alireza Poostindouz, Christoph Simon

Abstract: Quantum physics, which describes the strange behavior of light and matter at the smallest scales, is one of the most successful descriptions of reality, yet it is notoriously inaccessible. Here we provide an approachable explanation of quantum physics using simple thought experiments that deal with one- and two-particle interference. We derive all relevant quantum predictions using minimal mathematics, without introducing the advanced calculations that are typically used to describe quantum physics. We focus on the two key surprises of quantum physics, namely wave-particle duality, which deals with the counter-intuitive behavior of single quantum particles, and entanglement, which applies to two or more quantum particles and brings out the inherent contradiction between quantum physics and seemingly obvious assumptions regarding the nature of reality. We employ Hardy’s version of Bell’s theorem to show that so-called local hidden variables are inadequate at explaining the behavior of entangled quantum particles. This means that one either has to give up on hidden variables, i.e. the idea that the outcomes of measurements on quantum particles are determined before an experiment is actually carried out, or one has to relinquish the principle of locality, which requires that no causal influences should be faster than the speed of light. Finally, we describe how these remarkable predictions of quantum physics have been confirmed in experiments. We have successfully used the present approach in a course that is open to all undergraduate students at the University of Calgary, without any prerequisites in mathematics or physics.

arXiv:1806.09958v1 [physics.ed-ph]


Physics Education (physics.ed-ph); History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph); Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Quantum Physics (quant-ph)

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