New breakthroughs in quantum research reveal that the speed of light may not be so strict of a limit after all.
Quantum physics got a serious boost in 1964 when John Bell of CERN wrote equations that defined how particles could become entangled as a part of a simple wave function, instead of each particle carrying their own wave function. This freed researchers from the limitations of local-realism, and the rabbit hole began to widen.
Bell’s equations were not perfect. His equations contained what researchers call the locality loophole, which entertains the possibility that particles can someway communicate over a small enough distance that the speed limit of light can still be observed without us realizing it. The detection loophole, which made it difficult to tell if equipment was functioning properly, made it even harder for physicists to confirm Bell’s theories through experiment.
The research at Delft University may finally have tied up these loopholes. Physicists Bas Hensen and Ronald Hanson arranged two instruments 0.8 miles apart in labs on opposite sides of the campus. Each instrument had a diamond trap that could hold an electron steady. They would shoot these electrons with a microwave and a laser, which caused the electrons in both labs to emit photons that traveled through optical fibers to meet in a third instrument in the middle.
Once these two photons met, some weird things began to happen. When one electron began to spin, the one in the other lab did too. Their rates seemed to affect each other, and it happened faster than light would take to travel the 0.8 miles between the labs. The two researchers were able to recreate this effect in 245 trials over an 180day period.
According to the study, “Our experiment realizes the first Bell test that simultaneously addresses both the locality loophole and the detection loophole. Being free of the experimental loopholes, the set-up tests local-realist theories without introducing extra assumptions.”
This, of course, doesn’t mean Einstein was wrong about everything; many of his theories on classical physics still apply. It does, however, offer new insights into a field that even the world’s most famous physicist didn’t like to talk about much.