Phenomenon which baffled Einstein is captured in photo for first time

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Scientists from the University of Glasgow believe the development could lead to new types of imaging.

Scientists have captured a photograph for the first time of a phenomenon which Albert Einstein once described as “spooky action at a distance”.

The image is of a strong form of quantum entanglement, where two particles interact with each other and share their physical states for an instant – no matter how great the distance which separates them.

This connection is known as Bell entanglement and underpins the field of quantum mechanics.

Bell entanglement
An image of the interaction captured by scientists (University of Glasgow)

“It’s an exciting result which could be used to advance the emerging field of quantum computing and lead to new types of imaging.”

Einstein thought quantum mechanics was “spooky” because of the instantaneousness of the apparent remote interaction between two entangled particles.

This seemed incompatible with elements of his special theory of relativity.

Scientist Sir John Bell later formalised this concept by describing a strong form of entanglement exhibiting this feature.


Sir John Bell
Sir John Bell formalised the idea of non-local interaction (Aaron Chown/PA)

The team of physicists from the University of Glasgow described how they recorded the phenomenon in a photo for the first time.

They devised a system which fires a stream of entangled photons from a quantum source of light at “non-conventional” objects – displayed on liquid-crystal materials which change the phase of the photons as they pass through.

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