According to a new series of scientific experiments, it may be that quantum entanglement, one of the hottest topics in physics today, is connected to the chaos theory. Physicists came to this conclusion after a series of research studies, in which they analyzed the properties and behavior of cesium atoms, under various conditions. The scientists add that the new investigations could finally provide them with a clear delimitation of the levels where the quantum world ends, and the “classical” one begins.
The chaos theory is, in essence, the depiction of the influence that a seemingly small event can have on an entire system, in the long run. One of its most popular forms is the butterfly effect – which can roughly be translated as a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the planet, and the air vibrations turning into a hurricane on the other side. Up until now, it was widely considered that the chaos theory and the butterfly effect were pertaining to the macroscale world, and that they did not apply on a quantum level.
The team behind the new experiments, led by University of Arizona in Tucson (UAT) physicist Poul Jessen, has revealed for the first time the “fingerprints” of chaos on the small scale, which essentially link chaos to quantum entanglement. The latter phenomenon refers to a situation in which a number of particles becomes intertwined in such a manner, that what happens to one of them affects the entire construct. “They've brought together two [...] concepts in physics that are usually thought to operate in completely different regimes. That is surprising and interesting,” Nir Davidson, who is an optical physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, says of the find.
In a scientific paper appearing in this week's issue of the journal Nature, the scientists reveal that kicking the cesium atoms caused the spins of their electrons and their nuclei to entangle. Both chaotic behavior and quantum entanglement were proven. “We found that atoms starting out in one of the islands of stability remained unentangled, but for those that started out in the chaotic sea, the electron and nuclear spins rapidly became entangled. This suggests that chaos may have some fundamental connection to entanglement,” Jessen concludes, quoted by Nature News.
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