Quantum Physics Allows for Chicken AND Egg to Come First

first_imgStay on target Which came first: the chicken or the egg?This causality dilemma—representative of an ancient folk paradox—has stumped scientists and philosophers for ages.Aristotle tackled the problem in the fourth century B.C.; Plutarch highlighted the question 400 years later; in the fifth century, Macrobius deemed the trivial query “one of importance.” Evolutionary biologists are still trying to settle on an answer today.According to new research from the University of Queensland and the NÉEL Institute, as far as quantum physics is concerned, the chicken and the egg can each come first.“The weirdness of quantum mechanics means that events can happen without a set order,” Jacqui Romero, of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, said in a statement.“Take the example of your daily trip to work, where you travel partly by bus and partly by train,” she continued. “Normally, you would take the bus then the train, or the other way round. In our experiment, both of these events can happen first.”It’s called “indefinite causal order,” and it isn’t something we can observe in everyday life. To test their theory, lab-based researchers used a photonic quantum switch (which sounds like something the S.T.A.R. Labs team would think up).“By measuring the polarization of the photons at the output of the quantum switch, we were able to show the order of transformations on the shape of light was not set,” University of Queensland’s Fabio Costa explained.(Paging Barry Allen for clarification.)The most important thing to remember is that in quantum physics, cause and effect is not always as straightforward at one event leading to another.“This is just a first proof of principle,” Costa said. “But on a larger scale indefinite causal order can have real practical applications, like making computers more efficient or improving communication.”Their research was published in Physical Reviews Letters by the American Physical Society.Animals have a long history with physics—dating back to a 1975 paper “co-authored” by a cat. Check out these scientific breakthroughs that turned out to be totally bogus, and read more here.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Scientists Pull a ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Reverse Time’ With Quantum ComputerHow to Cook Perfectly Fried Rice, According to Scientists last_img read more