Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Heisenberg Compensator Already Exists !

In Star Trek, the writers neatly evaded a major objection to the possibility of the "transporter" working as claimed by introducing the "Heisenberg Compensator" - according to the Quantum Physics I learned, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle firmly stated that at a quantum level, the process of measuring the state of a particle would collapse it's state from an uncertain or "superposition" state to the fixed one as measured.
Fine and good . . . . .  but I have just learned that in 1996 scientists found a way around this by Interaction-free measurement.  (Yes, I know, it does seem preposterous but it is true)
Check out the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb tester and go down the page to the "experiments" heading for the heavy stuff.
In short, this means that the uncertainty has been sidestepped - it still exists though.
We are still a long way from building a transporter or extracting all of the information about a mass of atoms in an object in sufficient detail to recreate it somewhere else - and I am not sure it is practical, but I am sure physiscists will find other uses for "Interaction-free measurement".  

Barclay and O'Brien check the Heisenberg Compensator. Image from Memory Alpha website

Hand me the three sixteenths polarised quantum spanner, Igor. No, I don't need to take off my glasses, just because I can't see it does not mean I can't  fix a loose quantum !

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