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EPR Paradox Solved, Lifebox Review, Mail Art, and More

Superagent and tummler John Brockman announces that David Deutsch has won the Edge of Computation Prize. (“Tummler” means “One, such as a social director or entertainer, who encourages guest or audience participation.” Think Robin Williams or Milton Berle.)

Deutsch looks really cool, like Dracula maybe, or like an East European heavy-metal rock-star. I’ve never met him, though I’d like to. I went online and found some of his more recent papers.

I “read” “Information Flow in Entangled Quantum Systems” yesterday. As I think I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to discussing QM (quantum mechanics), I always feel like a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest. It’s not so much that I read a truly heavy-duty quantum-information paper like this as I ice-skate it, speeding across the stretches of hide-thin Heisenberg matrices lest I fall through into the frigid waters of despair. Deutsch rewards the intrepid skater with tasty diagrams and primo buzzwords. What I found really mind-blowing is that he solves the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox!

The way the EPR runs is that if I let systems Q2 and Q3 interact near the bottom of the page at time t1, then move them very far apart as time runs up the page, and then perturb the systems by Rx(theta) and Rx(phi), and then, before any signal would have had time to move from Q2 to Q3, quickly at time t2 use Q1 to do a measurement on Q2 and use Q4 to do a measurement on Q3. And then we’ll find a surprising correlation between the results unearthed by Q1 and Q4, and we’ll feel like there must have been some action at a distance or magic-string entanglement to make the info in perturbed Q2 match the info in perturbed Q3. But how can the signal have traveled faster than light?

Deutsch’s solution to the EPR puzzle is so wonderfully simple, so full of the “DUH of Science” that I think it must be true. Deutsch points out that, duh, for you to be sure that the measurements found by Q1 and Q4 match, you have to, duh, bring Q1 and Q4 into proximity, and that the actual “magical” match-up between the Q1 and Q4 data only occurs when Q1 and Q4 are close together — which allows for the explanation that that match-up occurs because of a quantum interference process between the wave functions of Q1 and Q4. In essence, the state of Q3 gets hidden in the state of Q4, and is transported over to interact with the part of the state of Q2 hidden in Q1. We don’t notice this because the info that travels with Q4 is “invulnerable to decoherence but absolutely inaccessible to local experiments.” I think the guy is seriously onto something; to me the insight seems to be on a level comparable to Einstein noticing, hmmm, there’s no absolute way to synchronize clocks.

Other news. The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul got a nice review in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.

Richard Bacchus sent me some Pig Chef pictures from his travels in the South.

Blogger Ken Nickerson sent me a link to a site that makes an ever-changing collage display of an author’s name, tiled with images of his or her bookcovers found on Amazon.

John Shirley sent me a link to a now-do-you-finally-get-it illustration of the fractal concept: a looped zoom into a hand with five fingers, with five smaller fingers on each finger tip, with five etc. It would be cooler if the hand were moving, and flexing and changing position as you zoom in — which is, come to think of it, what a nonlinear fractal like the Mandelbrot set actually does. See also my old link to the zoomquilt.

I wrote about people with hands like this down to a few levels in Saucer Wisdom; Hans Moravec also describes devices like this, which appear in Paul DiFilippo’s novel Fuzzy Dice. By the way, I just noticed that Paul has a cool website with galleries of his richly satiric mail art.

2 Responses to “EPR Paradox Solved, Lifebox Review, Mail Art, and More”

  1. Polaris Says:

    That’s pretty cool, David Deutsch is kinda genius. EPR Entanglement is very nice theory and I’m quite interested in things like that. Do you know why? It’s also because your friend Marc Laidlaw noted this theory in his opus magnum – Half-Life. Nice article.

  2. bettina mead Says:

    hi rudy, i love the retro mail art piece. i am the outreach coordinator for an eight library system. we are having a mail art show this fall. may i use this piece for advetising? would u submitt some pieces?

    look forward to hearing form you and thank you



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