- Education and Science»
EPR and Entanglement
EPR has been a thorn in the side of Quantum Mechanics since Einstein formulated the thought experiment in 1935. The Rope Model of Light and Gravity offers a rational physical interpretation to EPR.
Spinning around in circles
If Einstein should be given credit for something in his otherwise scientifically unproductive life it is EPR. When he left the Solvay Conference in 1927, he was a wounded animal swearing on his mother’s grave that he would get back at the Copenhagen Gang. They had upstaged and embarrassed him. Now it was his turn to teach them a lesson. So before he retired to Princeton and moved on to politics, he threw an enormous wrench into the idiotic mathemagical machine of Quantum Mechanics. Together with two colleagues, he devised the Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen (EPR) experiment, another enormous thorn in the side of QM even to this day. What Einstein didn’t realize at the time is that EPR is also a formidable argument against the rest of Mathematical Physics as well, meaning against his beloved relativity. He eventually figured that much out for himself, writing to his friend Besso in 1952…
"All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, 'What are light quanta?' Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken... I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics." F, Pais, Subtle is the Lord.
So what is EPR?
Let us assume that a spin-less particle spontaneously decays into a positron and an electron which instantly travel in diametrical directions. The law of conservation of angular momentum requires the particles to be oriented in opposite directions irrespective of the distance that separates them. Einstein postulated that the spin on one end is necessarily opposite to the spin on the other. But how can this be if the two particles are on opposite sides of the Universe? How does one particle transmit it’s location and motion info to the other?
Before I continue, notice that I use the term 'oriented' to characterize the phenomenon known as 'spin.'
You ask: ‘Isn’t spin a dynamic phenomenon? Does it make sense to talk about the orientation of spin of a top? Shouldn’t we be talking about direction of rotation or angular momentum instead of orientation?’
Yes. In the rational world of Physics we do. In the demented world of Mathemagical Physics, however, the mathematicians were compelled to develop incongruous and contorted language to get away with their irrational explanations. As always, language has a purpose, in this case to talk Math and imply Phyz. In Physics, spin means rotation. Think of a ball. When the basketball player says that the ball spins, he means that the brand twirls around periodically around the ball like Jupiter’s Great Spot or a horsy on a carousel.
So? In how many ‘orientations’ can a ball spin?
Well, in Physics, a ball can spin in only one direction: I’ll arbitrarily call it clockwise (CW). That’s it. End of story.
You ask, ‘Can’t it also rotate counterclockwise (CCW) or at an angle to CW?’
Aaaaahhh, but this assumes an extrinsic reference. It could also rotate backwards and forwards from the observer’s perspective, but the ball looks at itself and says that it always spins in one direction. To talk about CCW, forward, or head-over-heels the ball must use an earlier direction as a reference. This requires memory.
So what is the mathematical notion of ‘spin’ and how is it related to the conceptually static word orientation?
The answer is that, in Mathematics, spin is a bizarre concept that even its inventors cannot explain. The mathemagicians have replaced CW and CCW with numbers: spin 1, 0, ½, -1 and so on. They also redefined the word orientation. (You wonder what the word 'orientation' could possibly have to do with Mathematics. 'Orientation' is a qualitative word. What use would they have for this in Math other than to attempt to interpret the physical world, in which case we must use the physical definition. Can the mathematicians perchance add and subtract orientations?)
So what in the world can a spin ½ be, for example? Does it mean that the ball rotates yet stops at 180º from its starting point?
Not exactly! The incongruous language developed by mathematicians has to do with calculations and measurements and not with what happened or is. A mathematician doesn’t care what the ball is or does because this would have to do with Physics. A mathematician by nature is an autistic person and does not comprehend qualitative stuff. The mathematician is bent on describing things strictly from a quantitative perspective. He has been conditioned to believe that Math is equivalent to science. CW is a qualitative phenomenon. This is Physics and a mathematician abhors Physics. The mathematicians aren’t interested in whether the hands on a clock tick CW or CCW. The mathematicians are interested in the seconds and the minutes and in adding them to make a day. This is Math. In a similar vein, the mathematicians are not concerned with whether a ball spins CW or CCW. (It is significant that the Wikipedia definition of spin does not even contain the terms clockwise and counterclockwise! And yet more significant is that you will not find a single illustration!)
The mechanics ‘measure’ the orientation of the ball:
“ the spin is pointing in the +z or -z directions respectively, and are often referred to as ‘spin up’ and ‘spin down’.” 
[The spin is pointing? Spin up? What kind of ‘tops’ do the mechanics play with?]
Think of orientation if you can as ‘degree’ of spin. For instance, assume you make a mark on a cylinder and rotate it 180º, but instead of seeing the mark with your eyes, you certify this by assigning numbers to different locations of the mark around the cylinder. If the mark is on the opposite side you call it half spin, implying (but trivializing) that the cylinder rotated halfway. If you can run an experiment in which you can tell that the mark is always in that position, you can say that the cylinder is always found with spin ½. If you rotate it a full time around you can call it spin 1. If you rotated it twice around you can call it spin 2. If you rotate it CCW, you call it spin -1, and so on. Of course, the mathematicians never rotate the thing. They just read off the numbers.
So they do not know what is physically occurring. They are just describing a repeatable observation with numbers. This is as close as you’ll get to an understanding of this enigmatic parameter known as spin (and to how the static concept 'orientation' is related to this dynamic concept).
Fortunately, scientist Mooney takes the trouble to clarify for us the exact, unambiguous, super-duper, scientific meaning of spin:
“ Nobody really knows what spin is, much beyond the fact that it is an attribute of an elementary particle… Although we do not have a deep understanding of what spin is, we do have a mathematical description of how it behaves… One thing we have noticed is that spin behaves a lot like angular momentum” 
He is wrong of course! If quantum spin were anywhere similar to CW or CCW rotation (qualitative) or angular momentum (quantitative), it would be quite easy to visualize. We have no trouble visualizing, for example, the CW spin of a top or the angular momentum of the Earth. But spin is like neither. When the mechanics say that spin is 2 or ½ or -1 and invoke conceptually static words such as 'orientation' or 'pointing' to characterize this parameter, they are not referring to dynamic concepts such as (qualitative) CW or (quantitative) angular momentum. In QM, spin is a static concept, something like finding a mark on a table. As indicated above, the mathematicians have no idea of what they’re talking about. They just use spin numbers and theorize in circles for hours and run experiments without understanding what they're doing. Then they publish a paper and get Nobel Prizes.
Hence, Mathematics cannot help us understand what physically occurs during EPR. Firstly, the mathemagicians have not defined any of the parameters they use for EPR unambiguously. Then, in the particular case of spin, whether a photon spins CW and CCW or is oriented looking downwards or upwards this is a qualitative matter. However, we must concede that if a measuring device detects the difference between a spin ½ and a spin -1 it is because there is something physical occurring in the experiment irrespective of whether the mathematician understands the cause or not. The mathematicians have never understood that qualitative issues only require visualization. Until they visualize they don’t understand, and it is a waste of time to throw math at the problem. It is as a result of the mathematicians’ insistence on numbers that we ended up with ½ spins and with spin up and spin down ‘orientations.’
Let’s now simplify and present EPR in physical terms so that we can explain it to a rational person rather than to an idiot of Mathematics. Let's see if we can cut through the mathematical red tape and understand what happens during EPR. Think of an atom that simultaneously shoots two photons or electrons in opposite directions (Fig. 1). EPR states that if a mathematician verifies that the particle at A physically spins CW, her partner verifies that the particle at B spins CCW. Conversely, we can look at a static scenario as oftentimes described. We 'measure' that something (we will call it spin) is pointing upwards. At the other end, our assistant 'measures' that spin in his side of the world points downwards. The reader should realize that this creates insurmountable problems for the particle hypothesis. How can we model this phenomenon with particles if according to relativity no ‘information’ can travel faster than light? How did one photon ‘know’ what happened to the other?
In 1982, Alain Aspect performed a series of polarization experiments to confirm that EPR was indeed a reality of nature. Now we must explain in a rational way (what relativists call ‘classical physics’) how nature performs this magic trick. The key, of course, is in elucidating the physical configuration of the invisible entity that performs this ‘miracle.’
The ridiculous explanations the religion of Quantum Mechanics offers for EPR
So how is it that the mechanics explain EPR?
Let’s begin with the main problem, which is that the mathematicians insist on explaining this phenomenon with particles. Since, these particles have a common origin and then drift apart, at some point they will be so far away from each other that there is no rational way to explain how they can communicate instantaneously. Therefore, our bright mathematicians had to invent the most absurd theories to explain EPR and convince each other and the public that the explanations are rational because they are supported by Mathematics and Nobel Prize winners. All the contemporary physical interpretations of EPR are irrational and not really much different from the explanations the mathematicians offer for the slit experiment:
• quantum weirdness or magic (that’s just the way our Universe is) (description rather than explanation)
• hidden variables (there are unaccounted for factors that influence the experiment) (and I guess some day in the future someone will discover these factors)
• many worlds (the particles interact in parallel universes; meanwhile let’s continue talking about black holes and wormholes)
• time travel (particles from the future interact with particles from the past).
Up front, it is evident that none of these physical interpretations have any mathematical basis. The inventors devised these supernatural physical interpretations because they had no rational way of explaining the phenomenon with particles. If Mathematics were the language of Physics, all of the mathematicians would arrive at the same conclusions. This is clearly not so.
The most heated debates have traditionally taken place around the hidden variables proposal. The many worlds and time travel are more recent explanations. Hidden variables is one of those contorted ‘I don’t know’ explanations that quantum offers. Bohm suggests that there is instantaneous communication between the particles and that this is not in contradiction with Quantum Mechanics. He argues that there are unobservable local factors or factors that cannot be measured which comprise a universal wave function. The wave is everywhere, and so instantaneous communication is not out of the question. Bell counters with a now famous theorem in which he shows that QM forbids a theory of ‘local hidden variables’.  According to Bell, since in QM particles do not have a well-defined physical state such as position and momentum and QM makes no provision for the speed of light between distant objects, the limits imposed by Bohm’s hidden variables are outside the predictions of Quantum Theory.
Today, the mechanics claim to have an impressive series of ‘hidden variable’ experiments along the lines suggested by Bell that weigh in favor of Quantum and against common sense, intuition, and local reality. However, Deutsch and Hayden insist that Bell’s Theorem is irrelevant. They argue that all QM info is localized. (So again, which of these mathematical sages is the true representative of QM? Wasn’t Mathematics supposed to be an exact science? Wasn’t quantum theory supposed to be complete and beautiful and mathematically perfect?) Price resolves EPR with many worlds. Stenger resolves it with reverse time travel. So many versions! So many theories! Choices, choices! Who should we believe?
The answer is that it is the refusal of our deranged mathematicians to abandon the particle hypothesis that has led them to these supernatural ‘physical’ interpretations. To quote Bohm:
“ progress in science is usually made by dropping assumptions!” (p. 199) 
The mathematicians simply have to drop their assumptions. Unfortunately, they are cranks in positions of power and here's the definition of a crank:
" it is widely accepted that the true hallmark of the crank is not so much asserting that the Earth is flat as making this assertion in the face of all counterarguments and contrary evidence...No argument or evidence can ever be sufficient to make a crank abandon his belief." 
How to embarrass a mathemagician
The Rope Hypothesis makes the mathematicians who believed in the fantastic explanations for EPR look so much like fools that it is not even funny. Pull a rope parallel to your line of sight and look at one of the ends. Have your friend hold the other end. Twirl it clockwise. Your friend should see it twirl counter-clockwise. (Fig. 1). This explains what the lunatic mathemagicians at the Riverside Physics FAQ could never explain with Mathematics:
" If photon 1 is found to have spin up along the x-axis, then photon 2 must have spin down along the x-axis, since the total angular momentum of the final-state, two-photon, system must be the same as the angular momentum of the initial state, a single neutral pion. You know the spin of photon 2 even without measuring it.)...However, QM prohibits the simultaneous knowledge of more than one mutually noncommuting observable of either system. The paradox of EPR is the following contradiction: for our coupled systems, we can measure observable A of system I (for example, photon 1 has spin up along the x-axis; photon 2 must therefore have x-spin down), and observable B of system II (for example, photon 2 has spin down along the y-axis; therefore the y-spin of photon 1 must be up), thereby revealing both observables for both systems, contrary to QM... QM dictates that this should be impossible, creating the paradoxical implication that measuring one system should "poison" any measurement of the other system, no matter what the distance between them. 
We’re done! Now… how many relativists does it take to replace a light bulb anyway?