Intelligent Design

Quantum theory: You never know what’ll turn up useful …

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In “Science, Spirituality, and Some Mismatched Socks” (Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2009)”, Gautam Naik explains how “researchers turn up evidence of ‘spooky’ quantum behavior and put it to work in encryption and philosophy.”:

Last year, Dr. Gisin and colleagues at Geneva University described how they had entangled a pair of photons in their lab. They then fired them, along fiber-optic cables of exactly equal length, to two Swiss villages some 11 miles apart. During the journey, when one photon switched to a slightly higher energy level, its twin instantly switched to a slightly lower one. But the sum of the energies stayed constant, proving that the photons remained entangled. More important, the team couldn’t detect any time difference in the changes. “If there was any communication, it would have to have been at least 10,000 times the speed of light,” says Dr. Gisin. “Because this is such an unlikely speed, the conclusion is there couldn’t have been communication and so there is non-locality.”

Right, so there is no common-sense explanation of quantum mechanics. About the encryption?

Some researchers are using the uncertain state of photons to solve real-world problems. When encrypting sensitive data such as a bank transfer, both the sending party and the receiving party must have the same key. The sender needs the key to hide the message and the receiver to reveal it. Since it isn’t always practical to exchange keys in person, the key must be sent electronically, too. This means the key (and the messages) may be intercepted and read by an eavesdropper. An electronic key is usually written in the computer binary code of “ones” and “zeros.” Quantum physics permits a more sophisticated approach. The same “ones” and “zeros” can now be encoded by using the properties of photons, like spin. If someone intercepts a photon-based message, the spins change. The receiver then knows the key has been compromised. MagiQ Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., refreshes its quantum keys as often as 100 times a second during a transmission, making it extremely hard to break. It sells its technology to banks and companies. Dr. Gisin is a founder of ID Quantique SA in Switzerland. The company’s similar encryption tool is used by online lottery and poker firms to safely communicate winning numbers and winning hands. Votes cast in a recent Swiss federal election were sent in a similar way.

We live in a mysterious world, where uncertainty is better for security than certainty – but at the quantum level only. The person who left his keys stuck in the front door all night is one dumb bunny and can be grateful that most thieves wouldn’t expect to get so lucky, which is why he was the first person to discover the problem in the morning.

One thing that is not particularly useful just now is blind, dogmatic certainty, and I have heard that from too many scientists on panels and podiums recently.

14 Replies to “Quantum theory: You never know what’ll turn up useful …

  1. 1
    PaulBurnett says:

    O’Leary wrote: “One thing that is not particularly useful just now is blind, dogmatic certainty…

    That certainly sounds more properly like a critique of religions or political parties than of science.

    Other than having “heard that (blind, dogmatic certainty) from too many scientists on panels and podiums recently,” have you heard any “blind, dogmatic certainty” expressed by any popes, cardinals, bishops, televangelists or preachers? Or any political talk show hosts or professional politicians? Or is adherence to “blind, dogmatic certainty” solely restricted to scientists?

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    One thing that is not particularly useful just now is blind, dogmatic certainty, and I have heard that from too many scientists on panels and podiums recently.

    There is uncertainty at the sub-atomic level but anyone foolish enough to jump off a tall building will find that, barring the highly-improbable intervention of a flying man wearing a red cape and briefs outside blue tights, their timeline intersects that of the sidewalk below with a high degree of probability and comes to an abrupt end.

    And isn’t there a certain degree of irony in a staunch believer complaining about “blind, dogmatic certainty” in others?

  3. 3
    dbthomas says:

    So, Denyse, is it just me or does that last paragraph have absolutely nothing to do with quantum non-locality and “spincryption” technologies?

    On an obviously related note, my dog is barking in the backyard. I hate it when she does that.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    “If there was any communication, it would have to have been at least 10,000 times the speed of light,” says Dr. Gisin. “Because this is such an unlikely speed, the conclusion is there couldn’t have been communication and so there is non-locality.”

    Quantum physicists may not know it all but they are correct about nonlocality. Nonlocality is really synonymous with non-spatiality (no space or distance) but physicists have a way of using deceiving terminology in order to avoid shedding light on their own crackpottery. If there is no space, then all the spacetime and black hole physics of Einstein and Stephen Hawking is just nonsense. Also, if there is no space then everything is absolute since all properties, including position) are intrinsic to particles. They are absolute (independent) by virtue of being intrinsic. The relative is abstract (in the mind) or nonphysical.

    It is easy to figure out that space is really an illusion of perception. Sure, it is a good illusion (it allows us to quickly sense the order of things around us) but it is an illusion nonetheless).

    Physical space is given as a collection of positions. The idea is that, in order for any physical entity or property to exist, it must exist at a specific position in space. But if a position is a physical entity that exists, it too, must exist at a specific position. In other words, if space exists, where is it? As with time, one can posit a meta-space but this quickly turns into an infinite regress. The nasty little truth is that there is no such thing as space.

    Quoted from Nasty Little Truth About Space

    My point is that evolution is not the only field of science where scientists teach their crackpottery to an unsuspecting public. All of science is replete with similar nonsense. As Feyerabend once wrote, “it is time to cut them down to size, to give them a more modest position in society.”

  5. 5
    BillB says:

    Mapou:

    But if a position is a physical entity that exists, it too, must exist at a specific position.

    A position isn’t a physical entity.

    problem solved.

  6. 6
    William J. Murray says:

    I wonder what keeps the charge of the twin photons the same, if not some form of transcendant information?

  7. 7

    PaulBurnett @ 1

    Other than having “heard that (blind, dogmatic certainty) from too many scientists on panels and podiums recently,” have you heard any “blind, dogmatic certainty” expressed by any popes, cardinals, bishops, televangelists or preachers? Or any political talk show hosts or professional politicians? Or is adherence to “blind, dogmatic certainty” solely restricted to scientists?

    Tu quoque.

    Science is supposed to different than religion and politics, remember? You’re telling us it’s not, which if true would prove Ms. O’Leary’s point.

  8. 8
    BillB says:

    W.J.M:

    I wonder what keeps the charge of the twin photons the same, if not some form of transcendent information?

    I’m not up on the latest physics but you could hypothesize an extra dimension into which the photons extend. A photon could be split with respect to the three spatial dimensions we can detect but still occupy the same location in another dimension, allowing its two parts to remain essentially as one and removing the problem of how the pair communicate state. The act of disentangling a photon would effectively be to split it in this extra dimension.

    This, if true, leads to an interesting question – can you entangle a pair of photons that are in different locations without them ever having been in contact?

    But of course this is wild, uninformed speculation on my part.

  9. 9
    magnan says:

    I think the main relevance of this to ID is that proven subatomic nonlocality establishes nonlocality as a basic property of the ground of physical existence, with profound implications mataphysically. A number of physicists have written on this, on the relationship of the Copenhagen interpretation, quantum entanglement and other phenomena with the proven nonlocality of psi phenomena, implying consciousness is ultimately nonlocal. Two of the leading theorists are Henry Stapp and Fritjof Capra.

    This area of course applies to ID from an entirely different direction than evolutionary data and revealed religion.

    Another related aspect is the attempt to apply such phenomena to quantum teleportation, which could have profound technological applications. I think a recent experiment demonstrated this with ensembles of several atoms. It’s a fist step, a proof of principle.

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    BillB @5:

    A position isn’t a physical entity.

    True and that is the point. However, relativists (including Einstein) have always claimed that massive bodies cause spacetime (a non-physical entity) to curve and that the curvature of spacetime, in turn, causes bodies to fall. Isn’t it rather strange that non-physical entities can interact with physical entities?

    That being said, I think that the most exciting aspect of nonspatiality is that it will permit the future emergence of technologies that will make it possible to move a body from anywhere to anywhere instantly. In this light, I am reminded of accounts of teleportation in the New Testament. It seems that one person’s high technology is another’s miracle.

  11. 11
    BillB says:

    Mapou:

    Isn’t it rather strange that non-physical entities can interact with physical entities?

    Not really. I’m not at all sure, based on other comments you have made here, that you really understand the subject at all.

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    BillB:

    Not really. I’m not at all sure, based on other comments you have made here, that you really understand the subject at all.

    Yeah, well… opinions are a dime a dozen. I, on the other hand, am pretty sure that you don’t know what you’re talking about. How about that?

  13. 13
    PaulBurnett says:

    “angryoldfatman” (#7) wrote: “Science is supposed to different than religion and politics, remember? You’re telling us it’s not, which if true would prove Ms. O’Leary’s point.

    Science, like religion and politics, is a human endeavor. It’s not really all that different from other human endeavors – a bit more objective and fact-based, is all.

    To quote Albert Einstein, “…science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts.” – http://www.sacred-texts.com/ao.....einsci.htm

  14. 14

    PaulBurnett @ 13

    Science, like religion and politics, is a human endeavor. It’s not really all that different from other human endeavors – a bit more objective and fact-based, is all.

    So because science is a bit more fact-based and objective, it’s fine to be blindly & dogmatically certain in it, and a non-sequitur from Einstein proves it.

    Good job there Paul.

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