Einstein Wrong, Nature Does “Play Dice” – Unknown Mechanism Leads to Quantum Interference in Simple Reaction

Two Topological Pathways Reaction Schematic Illustration

Schematic illustration of the two topological pathways in the H + HD to H2 + D reaction: direct abstraction reaction (counter-clockwise) path and the roaming insertion reaction (clockwise) path. Credit: DICP

Is the simplest chemical reaction really that simple?

Most people think that quantum theory, which describes the motion of molecules and atomic and subatomic particles, is counterintuitive, since quantum mechanics describes behavior at odds with classical mechanics. Even Albert Einstein, who never accepted quantum mechanics, famously said that “He (God or Nature) does not play dice” — meaning that the laws of physics do not surrender to uncertainty or chance as implied by quantum theory.

A chemical reaction sometimes occurs in an odd way, since in microscopic view the progress of a reaction is governed by the quantum theory.

New research by scientists at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has shown, surprisingly, in the simplest, well-studied reaction, there is still an uncovered mechanism. It leads to clear quantum interference and verifies again that Nature does “play dice.”

The reaction in question is H + HD → H2 + D. In the study, published in Science on May 15, groups led by Profs. YANG Xueming, ZHANG Donghui, SUN Zhigang and XIAO Chunlei of DICP discovered a new kind of quantum interference in this simple reaction.

Representative Trajectory Reaction Scattering Angle

A representative trajectory of the H + HD to H2 + D reaction in certain scattering angle (backward scattering direction) via the roaming mechanism moving with time in Cartesian coordinate. Credit: DICP

In physics, interference is the combination of two or more waveforms to form a resultant wave, in which the displacement is either reinforced or canceled. Quantum interference can happen between particles that arrive at the same position or quantum state but by different paths.

Since a chemical reaction is essentially a collision and scattering process involving atoms and/or molecules, we can expect interference phenomena to occur in a chemical reaction.

Among all chemical reactions, the H + H2 reaction and its isotopologues are the simplest ones. This reaction only involves three electrons; thus it is convenient to deal with accurate quantum chemistry to calculate the interaction energy involving the three atoms.

Last year, DICP researchers found strong and regular oscillations as a function of energy at certain scattering angle of the product H2 during the H + HD reaction in particular rovibrational states.

Actually, similar oscillations have been observed in other reactions, but they are not as regular as those in the H + HD reaction. The physical origin of such oscillations remains unclear.

To understand this interesting phenomenon, the researchers conducted a combined theoretical and experimental study of the H + HD reaction.

Experimentally, by improving the crossed molecular beam apparatus, they recorded reactive scattering signals at certain scattering angle as a function of relative high energy.

They further developed quantum dynamics methods by applying topological theory to analyze the paths through which the reaction proceeded. Topological theory revealed that the observed regular oscillations resulted from interference between products generated via two different paths.

The researchers analyzed the reaction dynamics mechanisms using quasi-classical trajectory (QCT) theory. The results showed that the reaction proceeded via one path using the traditional direct extraction mechanism, i.e., the incoming H atom collided with the H atom in the diatomic reactant HD molecule and extracted it to form a new chemical bond of H2.

The reaction also proceeded via another path using a new roaming mechanism. The snapshots from the QCT theory for the roaming mechanism show that the incoming H atom initially approached the HD molecule via the conical intersection (Cl) region in the direction of the D atom end, and then roamed around the D atom in HD. When the incoming H atom approached the CI region, the HD bond started to stretch, making it possible for the roaming H atom to insert itself into the stretched HD molecule. The incoming H atom then formed a new chemical bond with the H atom in HD.

The products (H2) from these two paths were scattered into the same scattering angle, where quantum interference occurred.

Moreover, the probability for such an unusual roaming mechanism to occur is quite low — only about 0.3% of all reactions.

This work once again demonstrates the quantum nature of a chemical reaction at the microscopic level. It also reveals that chemical reactions are complicated.

Even the simple reaction H + HD → H2 + D, which has been studied for decades, has a small probability of employing unexpected mechanisms.

In life, many big events are triggered by small-probability events. Who can guarantee that a reaction mechanism of such small probability will not lead to surprising results?

Reference: “Quantum interference in H + HD → H2 + D between direct abstraction and roaming insertion pathways” by Yurun Xie, Hailin Zhao, Yufeng Wang, Yin Huang, Tao Wang, Xin Xu, Chunlei Xiao, Zhigang Sun, Dong H. Zhang and Xueming Yang, 15 May 2020, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1564

50 Comments on "Einstein Wrong, Nature Does “Play Dice” – Unknown Mechanism Leads to Quantum Interference in Simple Reaction"

  1. Thom Comstock | May 16, 2020 at 10:09 am | Reply

    Such an obvious marketing ploy. Such a very misleading title.

    Quantum mechanics itself proves that Einstein’s statement was mistaken, but you are simply repeating something that every physical scientist knows to sell an article and incidentally give more false fodder to those clueless anti-science buffs.

    • I agree Thom, many articles on this site simply recycle ideas that have been around for decades, often directly promoting researchers and research programs at certain universities. I’m an earth scientist and see it in so many stories (like claiming Zelandia is a newly discovered 8th continent, absolutely absurd, Cook knew of it’s existence in the 1770’s. The knowledge that volcanoes create source rocks – industry knew that 20 years ago but a particularly egregious university claims it as a recent discovery. Another university named the largest volcano on earth the TAMU massif – that’s Texas A&M University Volcano. That’s a disgusting name for one of our greatest topographic features. Differential rotation of the core, known ten years ago, but the Scitech headline yesterday makes it sound like this is breaking news. How about ‘origin of life on earth discovered’ which led to an article about soap bubbles. Cool that bubbles turned into cells, but not really the origin of life…)

  2. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for sharing Keep writing.

  4. Einstein knew of the God complexity. This author displays ignorance by equating “the nature” complexity with no apparent distinction.

  5. I’m intrigued by the idea that chemical reactions are scattering events that produce interference phenomena. I’ve never thought about that before. In grad school I worked on EXAFS which is an observable phenomena of an ejected electron interfering with itself as it is backscattered off of neighboring atoms, with the interference pattern used to measure interatomic distances. One experiment I remember was looking at an iron absorption edge in hemoglobin to see how the molecule wrapped itself around an O2 molecule to capture and transport it. I’m sure people have worked on applying QM to this, but what is measured is a kind of geometric average that might as well be a Bohr radius sphere.

    In a chemical reaction, if there are any particles ejected/emitted (such as a charge), one would expect them to also exhibit wave properties and perhaps be backscattered off of neighboring atoms. But I have never heard of anyone measuring something like that. The author of this article doesn’t really describe the experiment used, and it seems like it would have limited applications, but maybe there is some other way to study inference effects in particles emitted in chemical reactions?

  6. Armando Vasquez | May 16, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Reply

    Wonder what Nikola Tesla would have said about this back then. The fact that he used to believed about “crazy” things that are now more into quantum physics would have a better take on this. He was centuries ahead of his time, money and dirty politics…

  7. Dean Thorpe | May 16, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Reply

    I’m no scientist, I’m not even clever.
    But.. We don’t understand this stuff right? Isn’t it fair to say that even if something happens only very occasionally it doesn’t mean its “random” no dice needed. Right? We just can’t see all the variables. If we could this would be picked wouldn’t it?

  8. One man’s random chance is another man’s loaded dice unless all parties probably..

  9. I stopped reading at “Einstein never accepted quantum mechanics”. Not true. He didn’t accept the popular interpretation and he claimed the theory isn’t complete.

  10. Toilet Paper Ninja | May 16, 2020 at 11:20 pm | Reply

    Pretty sure Einstein never clarified which “He” he was referring to in his dice statement. Hot debate about whether he meant his teddy bear or his DND DM who he was convinced just made up the rolls.

    • He did at times refer to the “old one.” But that is vague enough to leave it open to guess-work.

  11. So.. What is exactly the relativity of our existence..? Do we really know how to measure or observe a thought? Or even our own feelings? Just like how the memory of the very nanosecond of when you’ll fall asleep.. Gets completely washed out. While the process of waking.. Fills your awareness of this reality, up to the top again. We possess this god-like power.. To create worlds within our own imagination. Our brains and hearts manage to build everything from scratch in a dream. Depending on what you have felt and processed in the wake state. Just like touching grass for the first time. Even surroundings you have only made a thought about.. Will you be able to create forth. But there’s a core to everything. We have the ability from birth, to sense between what’s good and bad. Not in the manner of man-made rules and laws.. But by what we feel as something good or bad. Like a dream.. You’re able to create the worst scenarios, which feels like a horror movie.. Where you have no idea of the plot or if you’re the main character, or just a side one.. While being the director.. Simultaneously at the very same time. So.. Is anyone else creating our dreams? It’s quite interesting actually.. How you can store positive feelings in a wake state. As they’ll get shot as good dreams while you sleep. Just like your negative feelings, when stored long enough. Will ultimately become nightmares. It’s like we charge ourselves with information in the wake state. While we install and burst them out into movie-like scenes and actions.. Within these super complex dreams. So.. Do you direct the people in your dreams as well then? From how they dress? To how they feel? As well as their naturally sounding dialogues? Or are they doing it by their own free will? Suddenly you just appear in a dream..? You never really wake up in the dream.. So how can we measure or even observe a thought, or even the process of going into a dream state? When there’s no real explanation to the complexity of your heart and mind?

    What are thoughts and feelings really made of? Cells? Neurons? Electrons..? You gonna tell me..? Things like these..? Creates super complex measurements by themselves? Without the need for us to completely understand how they work? That all this happens by random chance? Within the speed of light of all the matter in the universe..? That this immense amount of energy needed to create a dream.. Only needs Mass times the speed of light squared, Einstein? You can maybe measure information that gets translated in your mind.. Based on your senses of everything around and within our physical aspects.. But not the weight or the speed of our feelings! Einstein’s relativity theory is as static, as a picture, when observed and used. It just lacks the feeling of the creative motion in general terms. We have the power to change the universe by thought. Which is also as relative to our existence.. As all the light and matter in the universe. Flow shouldn’t be left out of the final equation, before we truly understand or know what it really is. Maybe Newton was right about one thing. Gravity works without humans. But with humans.. Gravity nulls out to our thoughts and creations. We have the ability to leave.. As to go back.. As well as the choice to stay. We choose all of this. Not gravity..Nor the universe.. But by the most complex being, in the entire existence of the whole universe!

    I think most of you have forgotten how complex we really are.. And that it’s quite idiotic by any human.. To think that he or she has any kind of power.. Or the authority.. To control anyone else..! I don’t think we’re fully aware and honestly grown dumb at this point.. To rely on people to regulate our sense of exploring.. Which we do by our own free will..! Parents for instance.. The wise that came before us.. Must truly believe that this world is theirs to control and to regulate for us. Because of those who came before us..? Must protect us from other humans, as well as the world around us..? Just because you’re afraid and alone..? And by “instinct”..? It’s the right thing to do? This world isn’t about what’s right or wrong. It’s about growing aware that your powers won’t exceed on it’s own.. But together will It double by everyone that joins the expedition of this world..! In the manner of Einstein’s E=mc².. It’s relatively true for the existence of everything around us. But not for us, who participate in the exploration. A sense of flow must be included.. To calculate our capabilities. Which is the psychological evolution to the existence of our relativity. Known as E=Fmc²..

    So how do you calculate a person’s flow in the universe? This flow.. Is where we humans get our energy to live from.. It’s made by our hearts and boosted by our minds.. It’s a secondary source of energy.. That we produce by our own free will to live. Surely this is the same form for Energy.. Like mass and the speed of light squared is? This form for Energy relies on the other building blocks, as much as they rely on the Flow that sparks everywhere. If the flow moves faster than the speed of light. Then no wonder why we haven’t made a discovery of it yet. We’re stuck on finite equations. But the consciousness of the universe.. Which refracts everything to where they’re supposed to be.. infinitely renews itself faster than we can measure time. Coincidences don’t really exist.. Not in this universe at least. Surely there’s a chance for infinite possibilities? Growing aware of all of this.. Gives you an ability to see the bigger picture. To how you can direct certain futures. And by fusing your certainties together.. These certainties become your future.. One we’re constantly heading towards. Just like how it can change its own direction, at any point in our measurements of time. But we don’t survive by chance. We survive by our joined will to survive. Our sense of Flow.. Is something we produce from the electrons and neurons in our heart and mind. They direct the cells inside our bodies. They are even capable of fixing damaged cells. To understand flow.. Is the key to a cure made by yourself. As everyone else by their own. To grow aware of all of this.. Will take all of us though. We’re incapable to learn on our own.. But quite vibrant to renew.. When we work together..! What the world has missed to acknowledge.. Is that we’re in the middle of a World War.. The third one. Where we humans.. Are up against an enemy made by the bad harmony in nature.. Which we created. The most complex being in the universe.. Failed to find a balance.. So now.. Will we pay for falling unaware to our actions in nature.. Nothing will ever become better for everyone.. Before you begin to learn what your own transceiving consciousness is!

    You know what’s interesting about thoughts and feelings in general? They have the ability to be more beautiful by themselves.. Than every beautiful thing to the eye and heart from your surrounding physical world.. Usually when you see something nice in the physical world, the feelings increase tenfold psychologically. You’re not really that aware of this. Most of the time you take the thought and feeling of something beautiful for granted. And there is usually an aspect of good and bad to everything that we experience. Sometimes the good overwhelms the bad and vise versa. But an important lesson that I had, which turned into an everyday tool later on. Is to be able to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. For instance when you complain.. Or feel anger. Then your self defensive mechanisms in your consciousness, will tell you directly what the problem in your life is. Though you won’t be aware of this at most of the times as they occur. For example.. When you write or talk s#!t to, or about someone. Read or listen to what you just made in your mind and heart. And the literal core to your problems will pop up in an instant.. From what you just stated is the problem. Question is though.. When will you begin to work on a fix? The physical world can’t really do that for you.. The fix usually comes from your heart. Of when you feel good from the bad again. Those feelings get translated in your minds in an instant.. So you can quickly see the beauty in your minds.. Than what the physical world is capable of creating for you. So next time you have a problem.. Don’t pay a psychologist for these answers.. With tens of hours or more of counseling to your life. Instead.. Grow aware of everything you produce within.. From what really is a good or bad feeling. Then make your fix from the answers you find there. Cherish what makes you happy in the long run and fix everything that makes life a messy hell in an instant instead. Nature tends to reward answers for the courageous hearts out here. As long as they transmit positive feelings.. Then you will receive a more positive life in the long run. This is known as the hidden harmony.. Between the physical and the psychological world within, as to everything around us.

    • What nonsense. Not a single number or fact in this lengthy rant. This belongs to the humanities/arts/sociology department and not to the science department.

      • I wonder if it was created by an algorithm. It’s an example of what Steven Weinberg in ‘To Explain the World’ describes as poetry.

  12. “God doesn’t play dice” is a fairly famous quote of Einstein’s. But instead of just quoting the man, let’s pretend he said something less likely to offend people’s fragile sensibilities. I don’t care what you believe, intentionally misquoting someone for any reason is poor journalism.

    • Except you are wrong. The quote is “He doesn’t play dice” and there is debate on whether ‘he’ is referring to nature or God. Hence the article is exactly correct to say:
      “He (God or Nature) does not play dice”

  13. Rhis is false quotation. Einstein said that GOD does not play dice, not nature.
    This is just a cheap and misleading way to get attention.

    • Nope, you are the one that is wrong. Einstein said “he” and there is great debate on if he was referring to god or nature.

  14. Touchstone24 | May 17, 2020 at 2:04 am | Reply

    Unfortunately, click-bait is the best way to get people to follow the link and subsequently read the article. If anyone is going to just read the headline and repeat it as “Einstein was wrong” without the deeper context of the article is going to be quickly quieted by any rational thinker.

  15. This whole article is failed attempt do discount determinism imo. Wrong about Einstein on multiple levels and not taking into account (once again) that the phebomenon discovered likely have a not currently understood cause. So many pseudo scientists trying to prove quantum mechanics supports true randomness… Just because an unexpected result happens doesn’t mean it’s random. People fund these projects because Determinism is scary. Just accept the evidence so far as well as the logic.

  16. Wrong, this is click bait, I could get more science from Scientologist s

  17. Frank Hodgson | May 17, 2020 at 6:37 am | Reply

    Lol bs. If something exists it must have a cause. That cause not being some indeterminate probabilistic energetic interaction between Particles. No. It is deterministic, and absolute, causes solely by the principle of sufficient reason. Schrödinger’s cat is not in some intermediate superstate where it exists as being dead and alive, that is preposterous as the analogy suggests. The cat is EITHER dead OR alive, determined by specific conditions relative to the interaction and interference patterns of quantum particles. Depending on the interaction, the cat has either been killed or not. It is only upon observation that we can determine the nature of the outcome. That’s not to say that we are the determining factors, but simply we interact with the experiment which has already taken place. We observe what has already reacted (or not). It’s as simple as that.

  18. BS. This study absolutely does not falsify that reality may be deterministic. Just because something is QM, does not mean it is necessarily random. It is truly unfortunate that it is not better known that there are actually many, equally valid, interpretations of QM–each equal in their ability to adhere to the available evidence. Some are random and some are deterministic and this changes nothing. Stop being biased.

  19. Sudipto Chatterjee | May 17, 2020 at 7:49 am | Reply

    Chinese virus now upping their advertisement to manipulate people’s sentiments. Well done Chinese bootlickers society to bring up such great stories.

  20. I already proved that special theory of relativity is mathematically wrong. https://vixra.org/pdf/1912.0171v1.pdf

  21. Click baits consume our limited attention. I wish there was a law or something

  22. Neither wrong or true, science is now political. We only publish for the sake of our ratings but keep secret what is best to ourselves. Politicians are polluting everything, good scientists don’t need conformation.

  23. Martin olson | May 17, 2020 at 10:22 am | Reply

    Beautifully clear writing in this article. I appreciate the time you took to explain each part of the chemical reaction and the behaviors of the particle in question relates to the quantum puzzle.

  24. Mahesh – regarding your experimental train scenario, “ As, both events are same. Old man in the cabin or on the platform will consume
    the same energy but same observer will find that energy consumed by old man is different.”
    Have you ever actually tried to push a cart on a moving train? Imagine the train was moving at Mach 12, do you think you’d be able to push it at all? Let alone using the same effort (energy) as compared to not on a moving train?

  25. Bruce Van Beek | May 17, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Reply

    Here try this for yourself!
    You want to know Quantum?
    Here are the steps to have the experience!
    First sit down one morning in a chair allow a couple hours. This can be easy and hard for some. Close your eyes . What do you see ? Right your awareness the God particular.
    No sleeping !
    Now you are aware no sound no distractions.
    Sit there .
    Observe don’t think or judge anything. Just go with it .
    Notice your breathing, notice the life energy in your hands then in every part of your body. Just do it don’t judge it!
    Secondly thoughts who you think you are are trying frantically to get you to stop !
    Thought is not you ! You are the awareness that gives life to those thoughts. They are just ideas that come and go. As they do they do there best to get you to invest in them energies and emotions hijack you to do it. Are you with me ?

    Step 3 now that you are Observing this . Feel Gratitude.
    Totally focus on awareness breathing and life energy in you. Let all thoughts pass.
    4th at some point you will experience absolute presence!

    Your thoughts will be fighting you the whole time trying to get you to stop this nonsense!

    That’s when you know you are going to hit a home run !

    Like a airplane breaking the sound barrier just before there is a lot of scary stuff going on then bang ! Absolutely awesomeness!
    Stay with it . Your in the Quantum field ! Nothing no time just Gratitude. You at the doorway . Walk in

    If you wish to research more. Look up on YouTube
    Eckhart Tolle, then Sadhguru, then Dr. Joe Dispenza.
    Inn that order. Then me
    Many awesome Blessings

  26. James Hodgson | May 17, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Reply

    Lazy writing

    Einstein did accept quantum mechanics, he got his nobel prize in its fundementals

    He just thought it was not complete

  27. MakeAmericaGreatAgain | May 17, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Reply

    Einstein was a liberal and thus was hyped out of proportion by the fake news media. Most of his papers on quantum theory were pure garbage.

  28. Jorge Negrete | May 17, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Reply

    This proof that Einstein was right. God does not play with dice. This experiment is more like a magician trick when he pulls a rabbit out of a hat but if we start dissecting the mechanics of it we’ll see there is nothing random about it. An empty hat does not produce a rabbit.

  29. Jong-Hee Park | May 17, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Reply

    well: H + HD = H2 + D. Your time scale in fs rather atomic (or nuclei the Protons) vibration frequency. The electronic transition (GS: EX) has 1840 times faster than that of it. Ensuring the path you need 20000 times fine scale to verify it. H in the H-D and incoming H must be explicit.

  30. Bill Johnson | May 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Reply

    Einstein said “God does not play dice”
    Why do you change it you @sshole?

  31. Nicholas James Meyler | May 17, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Reply

    I would like to see Stephen Hawking’s name mentioned, here, since he was the great scientist who originally said “Not only does God play dice, he sometimes throws them where we cannot see.”

  32. Albert Einstein has many drawbacks , but lack of insight was not one of them … he himself had been an advocate of using statistical techniques to describe quantum phenomena ..from lasers to cold Bose gas …. you really think he refused to believe the uncertainty principle ? He just said it is not the whole picture …. there might be hidden variable deterministic theories lying hidden …. a very misleading title here you have used, Sir ..

  33. James A Abaya | May 17, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Reply

    Scientist needs a better translator that does not translate God to nature. If this was intentional, scientist needs Jesus.

  34. Hi,
    Your article is very interesting and blow my mind suddenly.
    The new way of thinking,

  35. Misael Munoz Garcia | May 18, 2020 at 3:16 am | Reply

    Thom, ypur reaction was my first reaction. Reaiding the title i though to my self c’mon but still read on as if i was to find myself reading of a new discovery. The only one playing dice was the reader

  36. From something grandly unified (don’t you wish you knew what it was, god, nature, an energy singularity) it divides into bipolar forces, bipolar dimensions of opposites. Are you with me? (so far). Completely deterministic by formula, and true randomness. Wella! reality.. True randomness plays a part in everything, as well as non random deterministic predictable cause and effect.

    In that sense, the cosmos is a vast variety of opposites…… random and nonrandom (opposites..) Highly predictable structures and non predictable structures, forces, phenomena.

  37. Jeremiah Johnson | May 18, 2020 at 11:43 am | Reply

    He’s not wrong and his comment in the EPR paper is taken out of context. In Einstein’s day, they didn’t have the benefit of knowing about the CMB, neutrino’s, virtual particle pairs, etc. There is a whole lot more going on in the vacuum under the radar and space is not just some completely empty void. Just because we can’t quantize all of that underlying noise doesn’t mean it won’t have some causal impact on our experiments. Especially as they are focused on the minutia of the quantum realm.

  38. People enjoy misquoting Einstein to create a straw dog they can tear apart. He actually said, (in German of course) “the Old One does not play dice”. His quip to Niels Bohr referred to random and meaningless chance, not to craps. If the Old One plays, She plays with heavily-loaded dice, and Herself curled up inside them. The process results in a nondeterministic, ever increasing complexity. A better quote — “Subtle is the Lord, but not malicious.”

  39. … I think that the key is in figure it out how small scale is morphing into large scale…

  40. I thought Einstein said “God does not play dice with the universe”. Taking into account that that quote was translated from german to english “God” could actually mean a lot of things. I know that Einstein believed in both science and God, but we don’t know what Einstein’s idea of God was. I doubt that Einstein believed that God was a man (“he”) or even a human being. As for the article it can be compared to “the chaos
    theory”. It may feel, look, or seem like things are random or happen by chance but there is an order & reason for everything that happens, there is a Grand Design. Everything in the entire universe from the smallest particles, to the most massive,
    mindblowing objects in the sky is all connected.

  41. … I just wonder how AA would explain the three body problem with his love of determYnizm. Yeah, it would be more like, well ” The Got sometimes plays Jumb and we need to close our eyes to those moments and carry on”…

  42. As everyone else has said, the author doesn’t understand quantum mechanics.

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