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ERIC Number: EJ984073
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Teaching Quantum Nonlocality
Hobson, Art
Physics Teacher, v50 n5 p270-273 May 2012
Nonlocality arises from the unified "all or nothing" interactions of a spatially extended field quantum such as a photon or an electron. In the double-slit experiment with light, for example, each photon comes through both slits and arrives at the viewing screen as an extended but unified energy bundle or "field quantum." When the photon interacts (randomly) with the screen, field quantization requires it to alter its state instantaneously rather than gradually. Thus if the photon is absorbed, it must vanish or "collapse" nonlocally and instantaneously across a macroscopic portion of the screen, even across many kilometers in the case of interference patterns of light from a small distant star. The interaction instantly transfers the photons energy to a single atom of the screen. But a quantized field can contain any whole number of "excitations" (particles such as photons or electrons). If a single field quantum contains, say, two excitations, then generally the unified all-or-nothing character of quanta implies that any interaction of one excitation must also instantaneously affect the other excitation, regardless of the distance between them. The particles are then said to be "entangled" (see the "Background" section for a more precise definition of this term). Particles can become entangled by being created together in a single microscopic process, or by interacting with each other. Quantum entanglement is at least as fundamental as quantum uncertainty but is seldom mentioned in physics courses, although it has received broad attention recently in a wonderful book by Louisa Gilder. A recent paper in this journal presents entanglement in a manner that is useful for high school and college physics teachers. This paper builds on that presentation and looks at a different, more intuitive entanglement experiment that should be accessible to both scientists and nonscientists.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A