Serge Haroche explains why Einstein refused to accept the randomness there controlled by the smallest parties
Albert Einstein was offended.
It was December 1926, and physically or quantum mechanics, which made its first steps as the science that explains the smallest parts in the world, it is invisible to the eyes.
"Quantum mechanics is great," wrote the German physicist to his colleague Max Born. "But an inner voice tells me, so too, it's not true."
He said: "The theory offers a lot, but it does not bring us closer to the whole of Aldman. In any case, I am convinced that he does not play so"
The famous question – say forever, but not always understand in its right context – shows how not even a brilliant scientific center than Einstein's, At the scale of atoms and subatomic particles, the world was new and unbearable.
In 1935, the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger declared one of our recent behaviors that is currently the most famous metaphor of & # 39; e quantum physics is: that of & cat in & # 39; a cabinet.
His mental experiment consists of a poisoning of a cat with a radioactive atom, which has a 50% chance of decomposing and preventing a poison that it falls. After a while, the cat is alive and dead at the same time, an inexorable double in our daily life.
"The way in which nature adheres to this scale It's strange to be different from what we're used to in our macroscopic world that surrounds us"Said French naturalist Serge Haroche to BBC Mundo.
It is that, he remains, "quantum physics describes a microscopic world there & # 39; we have no direct intuition".
Haroche is clear: in 2012 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics, he travels the world trying to explain this opposite reality.
The 74-year-old researcher, you & # 39; t this saturday shares from the conference "Nobel Prize law" organized in Santiago de Chile by the Nobel Foundation itself, talked about how the price changed his life, how to study the "cat" of Schrödinger's laboratory and the importance of quantum physics even with Einstein's reception.
What do you think of Einstein's famous phrase? what So God doesn't play with the universe?
Einstein did not speak of God in a religious sense, but for him God was a metaphor for nature. What he means is that the law of nature could not have an intrinsic randomness, whereby it is well known that what to say is what God plays.
The words see the fact that it lacked determination of quantum physics, which denied Einstein. And not only Einstein: Schrödinger was not comfortable with these aspects of quantum physics.
But history has shown that, in this context, good effective tests play. Moreover, there is no single experiment that opposes the fact that quantum physics has a randomness.
¿It is possible that the world on an atomic and subatomic scale Local because not enough is known about him and what, at a point, science a series of for predictable rules like you from the world that we see in everyday life?
I think the randomness will stay here. In quantum physics there is no way to talk with certainty what will happen. But that does not mean that we are not sure of some things: we know that if we take certain measures, we always get the same result. It also does not mean that you cannot do enough things. In & # 39; the facts work atomic clocks, they & # 39; t make it with great direction, according to the laws of & # 39; operate quantum physics.
It is a theory that has registered the randomness and at the same time fixes measures that are much worse than those of classic physics. This is a paradox of quantum physics that is fascinating.
As a scientist, how does it make you feel this randomness?
Of course, it feels great, but I think it's about to connect with our evolution.
Our brain is the result of evolution for thousands of generations, in which we have exposed the macroscopic world. Then we have an idea of what will happen when, for example, an object falls and how & # 39; can protect you yourself from & # 39; e head. This includes the laws of classic physics.
Instead, we are not used to understanding what happens when an atom is disassembled, so we must try to differentiate from our basic inception and apply the gains of quantum physics that we work to. This gives us another kind of intuition, a mathematical intuition, an intuition about what will happen when we do an experiment.
In fact, this is what happens at all levels of science. When science goes away, it can happen that any rarity and that opposite is popular wisdom. Did Copernicus say it was not the sun that turned around the earth, but the other way around, it was a very heavy idea to accept at a general level and Galilee had a very bad experience you tried to convince the Pope.
Fighting against false ideas and false illusions is part of science and, in quantum physics, the illusion of determinism is an important aspect of & # 39; a fight.
Since it goes against intuition, How do you usually explain why the Nobel Prize in Physics won in 2012?
(He laughs.) It's even harder to explain. For the past 30 years, I have not only tried many naturalists to isolate and isolate isolated quantum systems, which is how & # 39; they work with them, how to & # 39; types of quantum states place, how & # 39; they interact and see some results from it.
These types of experiments that include isolated quantum systems are possible through the development of new technologies such as lasers, particularly a type of high performance lasers that provide atomic manipulation. This is where the Nobel Prize comes: along with my friend (the American physicist) David Wineland we've won by two ways to make a manipulation.
Many other people could win the Nobel Prize for them. We are just two people who have a large community of researchers from no world who experiment with their kind.
For decades, scientists have known that isolated particles rarely treated, but could not observe them in a laboratory. However, you can create an experiment that first sees the "cat" of & # 39; e Schrödinger decide if he was alive or dead. How was it possible?
A quantum system can exist in a superposition of states. In & # 39; the metaphor of & # 39; a Schrödinger's cat would be a superposition, in which the cat can kill life and death at the same time. Thus, he would speak, he would be "apart" between these two classic realities.
Of course this works for systems like cats because it happens in very short times. However, we can observe this kind of phenomenon if we manipulate many smaller systems that are not formed by & g39; gazillion & # 39; atoms, but only by a few atoms or a few photons. Then you can try this type of superposition and explore how & # 39; t the quantum properties of & # 39; s superposition are lost when the time goes on. This is exactly what we had.
In a box, we pass a field through a few photons and enter this field into a quantum superposition of two states, which we call with the metaphor of the living and dead states. Then we studied how & # 39; t after a short period the system had to be decided if it was alive or dead and not at the same time.
This evolution from quantum to classical physics is called quantum design. Whatever it does, the letter understands "y" in the word "o", so the cat is no longer alive and dead, but living or dead. The study of decoherence was then one of the most important points of our research.
¿There is some practical application for this discovery?
Whether it's useful or not is still an open question. The area of quantum technology has become much widespread today. There are people who try or use quantum particles to do useful tasks in communication, computing and measurement. There are sorts of advances in many directions, but it is difficult to know which of these advices, after much use of influences, causes other aspects of quantum physics to lead to the development of lasers. , GPS and computers we use today.
People want to call this "the second well of a quantum revolution", but at present it is still very uncertain. Many of the things that we think will happen, will not happen, but many others will, if we do not propose, will be true. This is something that has always happened in the past. Wipers open new wages and unexpected surprises are often presented.
Wie it cQuantum computing a surprise to you?
When I started researching, I was simply amazed by the challenge of trying to manipulate and find a quantum system how to treat nature. But after that some people do not think we can do it. Schrödinger himself said in the fifties that we could never realize it, because it was necessary to manipulate isolated atoms and he thought it would always be on the domain of imaginary experiments and not in the laboratory.
But Schrödinger died in 1961 and in the 1960s and 1970s the laser was developed. At that time I was a young researcher and I was fascinated by the perspectives that I opened to the laser. And I realized that the idea would be possible for isolated atoms. But I had no idea that I could receive a quantum computer.
Doing & nbsp; in & nbsp; in the & nbsp; 90 & nbsp; 90 some people started speculating that the quantum computer would be the result of this kind of research. At that time, I was skeptical, because I realized that the experiments with one atom were too difficult and a quantum computer to operate, at the same time you had to make millions of atoms.
This is still a challenge today, 20 or 30 years later. We play with small systems, which point to the basic steps of a computer, but we don't yet know how we can increase it on the size of a computer that doesn't do real tasks.
For me, it's fascinating how the & # 39; s in science is the result most unpredictable. The only safe thing is that you never have an application and technology if you don't have basic science before, if you don't understand the phenomenon. What then doesn't happen and there are many examples in modern science.
For example, the magnetic resonance (MRI) tomographs or images, which are used to create images from inside our body with a fantastic performance, are used by doctors of all parts of the world become a request from & # 39; a magnetic core resonance. Having invented the magnetic resonance in the 1940s, they were surprised at twenty years later, leading to the establishment of the MRI machine. Is that, for that not only magnetic resonance, but also high magnetic field, that it's not possible at that time and you have to have computers that haven't existed.
All this is the result of a combination of basic science that it has been developed by various scholars in various fields and that in this way, it crystallized in a way that it had not provided when the first experiments were made.
¿This is what goes on the talk "The usefulness of useless knowledge" that it will give in Chile?
What we call "useless" is the science that has been driven by curiosity and the "useful" is the one that leads you to an application and devices. What we say is that it is wrong for these types of sciences: there is no way to have practical or "useful" applications if you do not base or "useless" science on the basis. Science is only very important because of the need to increase knowledge, to & nbsp; it from & # 39; is a citizen.
Today, many people talk about "alternative facts" and "post-truths", and these are things that come across science. The values of & # 39; the science are the values of & # 39; The truth and, if you lead them through education, you can have communities that are less troubled by people who are lying all the time.
Basic science may not be able to use it, but it does distort an atmosphere where the values of truth survive and this is very important.
¿How was his life influenced win the Nobel Prize?
It affected my life in many aspects, so I'm not the one who wants the media and I receive a lot of requests. They invite me to give talks and lectures, and I travel the world. But I'm not talking about: I meet people, travel and talk to people, especially for all students, because I think it's very important.
In addition, I have been formally retrained from one of the colleges of France, so I no longer had to learn. If it wasn't for the Nobel Prize, my life would be so much calmer at this time, of course.
With thanks to & # 39; a Nobel Prize, I also had my laboratory on & # 39; Keeping a France colleague and my colleague's working very hard to earn this kind of research, I try to connect with them and know what they are doing. I participate in the research by writing papers. I am very active, which was made easier by the Nobel Prize.
¿Y How was that moment when he found that he had won it Nobel?
It was the end of the morning in Paris and I walked the street when I got a call and I saw that the landscape of Sweden was. Then I thought, "It's a bad speech or it's an important event". It was the second.
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