Geeking Science: Entanglement

Image courtesy of Cheezeburger

By the time most people have finished high school, they have been introduced to the Schrodinger’s Cat, a concept created by Erwin Schrodinger during a correspondence between him and another powerhouse physicist of his day, Albert Einstein, as they pounding out the implications of quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics doesn’t live in our normal space-and-time continuum, well, it does, but it breaks a lot of “rules” normal physics have. Kind-of like the rules of adults don’t apply to babies, the rules of molecules doesn’t apply to the parts that make up atoms. Smaller things always gets different rules. They are the baby – got to love them.

In Schrodinger’s Cat, it means if you shrunk down a cat to sub-atomic particle size and stuck it in a box with some poison, until observation happens a state of quantum superposition exists where the cat is both alive and dead.

Part of this is because quantum mechanics doesn’t happen is space-AND-time … it happens in space-time. Meaning some of the properties of time are indistinguishable / overlap with the properties of space. Think of how light is both energy and matter and can be bent by gravity. It’s like that, only different.

Humans love their boxes, and the universe is not a box.

Schrodinger’s Cat is an example of entanglement, where an link exists between particles which have become entangled. Scientists have been exploring the principle of quantum nonlocality – where two entangled particles will share rotation, momentum, and polarity even over the divide of space INSTANTLY, possibly over light years. Experiments have come back positive – not the light year distance, but pretty much what humans can test on Earth indicate this theory can be supported. 

For science-fiction, what this means, is mankind may be able to create instantaneous communication. Using quantum particles and the nonlocality principle – combined with say, Morse code – messages can be sent over any distance WITHOUT possibility of interference or signal loss. Yes, limited to one location to another. But a network is possible – say fleet headquarters has dozens of arrays linked to ships throughout the galaxy – a single message can be sent out. 

If this is possible, mankind won’t lose itself by scattering to the stars but remain a coherent whole.

But … ready for the kicker … remember space-time. Locality on the quantum level isn’t just in SPACE, but in TIME. The Crull article in the bibliography goes into it with deeper science from an experiment run in 2013 where it WORKED, but I’m going to just play with this from a sci-fi viewpoint.

Speculating this out, humans can communicate backward and forward through time with this principle. All one would need is the right technology similar to the network of one-to-hub communication in standard space already speculated above.

Maybe humanity won’t get time machines, but writers can play fast and lose with the science to make them “techno-babble” possible.

Still, I’m more enthralled with the means of really and truly communicating over light-years. 

At one point, there was a question going around of which science fiction world is stronger – who would win, Star Trek or Star Wars?

A lot of people in my circle went with Star Wars. I immediately said Star Trek, not based on their weapons or the size of their ships, but the fact they had instantaneous communication. In most battles, that is the deciding factor – can you coordinate your people to arrive at the same time over vast distances? Star Trek could, Star Wars depends on the Force to be on their side.

Real world. though. We may be able to do Star Trek level instantaneous communication even before we put a colony on a world circling a different sun.

Geeking science!


Crull, Elise. “If You Thought Quantum Mechanics Was Weird, Check Out Entangled Time”. Science 2018 April 14. – last viewed 11/14/2019.