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|Science is Weird: There Flies Another Quantum|
|Written by Daniel Röthig|
|Monday, 07 March 2011 22:44|
We physicists recently created 'The Coolest Place in The Universe' in the sleepy town of Cambridge, and I assure you in all sincerity that there was a plausible reason: cosmic prestige. Also, ultracooled, ultra-vacuous set-ups allow us to study phenomena like Quantum Entanglement, where two particles created by the same process become interdependent. Changing the properties of one will influence the other instantaneously, even if they are lightyears apart. In effect, these particles communicate faster than the speed of light, which of course leads to violations of causality.
These delicate phenomena call for exceptional experimental set-ups, and we are to acknowledge such handicraft; but it behoves the modern scientist to ask why we bother with such pedestrian scrutinisations of the fabric of reality, and not talk about birds instead.
Mysteriously, the ability of the European Robin to feel the Earth's magnetic field is just too sensitive to be explained classically: zap it with a meagre oscillating field of 15 nanotesla, and it flies to the North Pole. Compared with the Earth's magnetic field, 15 nanotesla is almost nothing, and is only strong enough for one thing: disrupting Quantum Entanglement.
Yes: birds depend on Quantum Entanglement to navigate, facilitating vast arrays of molecular quantum computers in the warm, gooey confines of their eyes. First, a photon excites two electrons (thus entangling them); shortly thereafter, they assume a configuration that depends on the local magnetic field – provided they are still entangled. Without any exotic temperature superlatives, birds maintain entanglement that lasts for 100 microseconds, easily outperforming the most advanced man-made experiments. How's that for ultracool?
Science is weird – especially, dare I say, from a bird's eye view.