New Quantum Paradox Reveals Contradiction Between Widely Held Beliefs – “Something’s Gotta Give”

Artificial Quantum Intelligence

Probing the reality of observations made by an artificial quantum intelligence. Credit: Artwork by Anthony Dunnigan.

Quantum physicists at Griffith University have unveiled a new paradox that says, when it comes to certain long-held beliefs about nature, “something’s gotta give.”

Quantum theory is practically perfect at predicting the behavior we observe when we perform experiments on tiny objects like atoms. But applying quantum theory at scales much larger than atoms, in particular to observers who make the measurements, raises difficult conceptual issues.

In a paper published in Nature Physics, an international team led from Griffith University in Australia has sharpened those issues into a new paradox.

“The paradox means that if quantum theory works to describe observers, scientists would have to give up one of three cherished assumptions about the world,” said Associate Professor Eric Cavalcanti, a senior theory author on the paper.

“The first assumption is that when a measurement is made, the observed outcome is a real, single event in the world. This assumption rules out, for example, the idea that the universe can split, with different outcomes being observed in different parallel universes.”

“The second assumption is that experimental settings can be freely chosen, allowing us to perform randomized trials. And the third assumption is that once such a free choice is made, its influence cannot spread out into the universe faster than light,” he said.

“Each of these fundamental assumptions seems entirely reasonable, and is widely believed. However, it is also widely believed that quantum experiments can be scaled up to larger systems, even to the level of observers. But we show that one of these widely held beliefs must be wrong! Giving up any one of them has far-reaching consequences for our understanding of the world.”

The team has established the paradox by analyzing a scenario with well-separated entangled quantum particles combined with a quantum ‘observer’ – a quantum system that can be manipulated and measured from the outside, but which can itself make measurements on a quantum particle.

“Based on the three fundamental assumptions, we have mathematically determined limits on what experimental results are possible in this scenario. But quantum theory, when applied to observers, predicts results that violate these limits. In fact, we have already performed a proof-of-principle experiment using entangled photons (particles of light),” said Dr. Nora Tischler, a senior experimental author. “And we found a violation just as quantum theory predicted.”

“But our ‘observer’ had a very small ‘brain’, so to speak. It has just two memory states, which are realized as two different paths for a photon. That’s why we call it a proof-of-principle experiment, not a conclusive demonstration that one of the three fundamental assumptions in our paradox must be wrong,” she said.

“For a more definitive implementation of the paradox, our dream experiment is one where the quantum observer is a human-level artificial intelligence program running on a massive quantum computer,” said Professor Howard Wiseman, the leader of the project and Director of Griffith’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics, where the theoretical and experimental teams are based.

“That would be a pretty convincing test of whether quantum theory fails for observers, or whether one of the three fundamental assumptions is false. But that’s probably decades away.”

Paradox With Particles of Light

Experimental apparatus for a test of the paradox with particles of light. Credit: Kok-Wei Bong.

The Centre for Quantum Dynamics laboratory in which the experiment was performed is also part of the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence.

“It has long been recognized that quantum computers will revolutionize our ability to solve hard computational problems,” Professor Wiseman said.

“What we didn’t realize until we started this research is that they may also help answer hard philosophical problems – the nature of the physical world, the mental world, and their relationship.”

Reference: “A strong no-go theorem on the Wigner’s friend paradox” by Kok-Wei Bong, Aníbal Utreras-Alarcón, Farzad Ghafari, Yeong-Cherng Liang, Nora Tischler, Eric G. Cavalcanti, Geoff J. Pryde and Howard M. Wiseman, 17 August 2020, Nature Physics.
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-020-0990-x

51 Comments on "New Quantum Paradox Reveals Contradiction Between Widely Held Beliefs – “Something’s Gotta Give”"

  1. Sankaravelayudhan Nandakumar | October 6, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Reply

    The Nobel prize in physicsgiven to Prof.Grephe requiring more information on Compressed matter of Sagittarius A involving the surrounding medium seems to be activated along Rubber Band theory basically indicated by “Bow and Arrow theory I have indicated early during so many citations.I remember I cited to Hubble Telescope Research unit.
    The the compressed matter call it a Blackhole even Einstein refused to accomodate in his “Relativity Theory” has been taken up by Hon.Roger Penrose for his mathematical evalution.He has seeded the basic theory followed by his Scientists can not be be neglected so easily.
    But there was some information available while decoding “Bow and Arrow” dynamics as energy is stored and released as comparable with Blue atars ejeted at high speeds breaking the theory of Quantum Mechanics.The very Rubber band theory as applicable on behaviour of M31 dynamics requiring more information.
    Once this is observed this infirmation may be applied in electrical and nechacical field converting along the surrounding medium producing repulsion and attraction forces involved due to the behaviour of Compressed Invisible Region at Sagittarius A as such involved in Bow and Arrow theory has it been citated during Nobel Prize in Physics ceremony of 2020.

  2. Did it not occur to the authors to state what all three assumptions mentioned are? The reader has one of them explained, then… nothing on the other two. An addendum is called for, perhaps?

    • I apologize. Somehow, this line was dropped during editing (but it is now fixed):

      “The second assumption is that experimental settings can be freely chosen, allowing us to perform randomized trials. And the third assumption is that once such a free choice is made, its influence cannot spread out into the universe faster than light,” he said.

  3. Joshua Scott Hotchkin | October 6, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Reply

    Realism is dead. Not only is it an embarrassing continuation of religious assumptions about reality, it has been obliterated by its own cult. Quantum mechanics, and the Q-Bism interpretations, have taken science to the point where it has illustrated its own validity.

    An observer created reality is great news. It means we are not slaves to existence, but its authors, able to collectively create better streams of experience. The death of science need not be mourned. It can be appreciated for the contributions towards technological plot devices it has given our narrative to grow upon. But if realist science is seen as an absolute truth for much longer, it will lead to a scientocracy every bit as stifling and oppressive as any past theocracy. We stand on the fulcrum between progress and regress.

  4. Anthony Chipoletti | October 6, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Reply

    ‘…”The first assumption is that when a measurement is made, the observed outcome is a real, single event in the world. This assumption rules out, for example, the idea that the universe can split, with different outcomes being observed in different parallel universes.”

    “The second assumption is that experimental settings can be freely chosen, allowing us to perform randomized trials. And the third assumption is that once such a free choice is made, its influence cannot spread out into the universe faster than light,” he said…’

  5. I don’t even exist?

  6. Such a waste of time and money…

  7. I didn’t get the article. Though I like the contradiction and the assumption depicted.
    But it really is not an article which is made for readers joy.

    Reads itself like someone shat on scitechdaily. 🙂

  8. At some point we will realize the issue is the assumption of locality.

    I predict some day we will realize the Universe is non-locally causal in a non-linear time dynamic sense.

    We will see.

  9. I guess the author didn’t bother proofreading the article…
    Doesn’t even state what three assumptions may be violated. Just a waste of time.

    • I apologize. Somehow, this line was dropped during editing (but it is now fixed):

      “The second assumption is that experimental settings can be freely chosen, allowing us to perform randomized trials. And the third assumption is that once such a free choice is made, its influence cannot spread out into the universe faster than light,” he said.

  10. This only further validates the theory proposed by Dr Donald Hoffman (UC Irvine).

    Reality, time and time again reminds us that we are limited and our brain is only protecting us from that which we cannot imagine. We are stuck. We let go of many many assumptions about the universe, spacetime is next.

    We need to keep thinking deeper and accept our limits without projecting such limits on reality. Consciousness may be fundamental…for now…

  11. Marek Rozkowski | October 7, 2020 at 4:04 am | Reply

    2 out of 3 assumptions are missing. The article is incomplete and should to be revised.

    • I apologize. Somehow, this line was dropped during editing (but it is now fixed):

      “The second assumption is that experimental settings can be freely chosen, allowing us to perform randomized trials. And the third assumption is that once such a free choice is made, its influence cannot spread out into the universe faster than light,” he said.

  12. Well it is obvious since the beginning that we don’t really physically exist according to the creator we just physically exist according to us and to our persepective, it is very clear that we are just thoughts in a brain or an intelligent system, we are just neurons/electroncs in this intelligent system!

  13. Gayland Andrew Machala | October 7, 2020 at 5:45 am | Reply

    It has been “proven” that information cannot be transmitted faster than the speed of light even via “spooky action at a distance” quantum entanglement. I wonder if that is one of the assumptions that will have to be overturned.

  14. This is some fantastically idiotic content. Bravo. “Let’s assume nothing is real because there could be phantom universes”. I would laugh straight into your face, no social distancing if you ever attempted to rationalize this line of thinking in a real debate.

  15. Spencer Cunningham | October 7, 2020 at 7:24 am | Reply

    I enjoyed the article and my contemplation of its propositions. I found a few people’s comments about the article illuminating, as well; yet, I am disquieted by some I thought to be rude, troll-like. For some reason, I don’t expect to encounter trolls commenting on academic work.

  16. Philippe Martin | October 7, 2020 at 8:54 am | Reply

    Good Day Mr Joshua Scott Hotchkin , my name is Philippe Martin and I agree with you totatly. Thank you very mutch in juste few sentences you explain it all. Sincères salutations philippe Martin…

  17. It is all a matter of perspective!

  18. You made me stop and think. Sean Carrol’s theory is that our universe splits off and creates a new one to meet the need is, to me, a paradox. My theory is that yes, there are multiple universes. I have believed this for over 30 years. The one piece of the puzzle came to me today when the article said that a universe that splits is a paradox. When I read this, it finally clicked. I believe all the multi universes have already existed and they can’t split to make new ones, since you can’t start life in the middle of a life. Everybody has to be born, their lives lives lived, and all the different roads in those lives taken by each individual. Thinking in this way makes the whole thing so much easier to understand. My wife was able to know what I was talking about, and stuff like this hurts her brain! LOL
    I also have a theory about dark matter. It has been created in the lab, but, as we know, it immediately disappears. It has to. It can only exist in a dark matter universe, so that is where it goes.

  19. In my opinion we exist. Even as an idea or simulation or even as a dream. We exist. We affect too much not to. But the key to evolution is to not hold on to traditional schools of thought like atoms(even though no human has actually seen one) existing or maybe gravity isnt what we thought it was….
    in this,more liberal interpretation in theories,i feel a “pushback” on new discoveries might be more apt to be accepted and or understood.

  20. I like to believe that Black Holes are the properties of quantum electrodynamics in regards to electromagnetic spacing as can be seen on the currently largest observable scale. The shape of a ring makes perfect sense as the quantum electromagnetic spacing of the individual matter would become so compacted and generate an electromagnetic force powerful enough to push the matter outward and then form a ring shape due to the matter having an equal opposite gravitational pull inwards. You can simulate the dynamics of a black hole and wormhole by attaching a balloon to a water faucet, use your hand to hold the balloon up and allow it to form a flat shape at the same level of the faucet (black hole), then slowly stretch the balloon downwards (wormhole).

  21. Braden J Foley | October 7, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Reply

    The implications are staggering

  22. After reading this article and not being someone super smart but enough I think to understand this. If of the 3 assumptions and followed beliefs that the observer basically has one assumption wrong on a large scale? So we are trying to understand why at a larger scale the proposed 3 assumptions do not apply if considering a problem could not escape one field faster then light and at the same time different universe that same problem could not exist with the 3 assumed guidelines? Of the second universe it would apply base off a normal small scale 2 option path but not multiple paths? Which would from my view explain the article for us not as smart folks? As with small scale we can wrap and figure a rule of thumb thereby the 3 assumptions and as the article states create a artificial compared human intelligence of quantum understanding could perhaps untangle which one of the 3 is wrong? Please feel free to correct me I am not as informed on the quantum theory as I wish I was lol

  23. Well considering it would be impossible to physically test other parallel universes. The assumption that the wavefunction collapses has to only be the partial story. I thought that quantum coupling proved that information can travel at faster than the speed of light? And tbh don’t give ourselves a headache by stating experiments are wholly unreliable. We’ve used experiments so far to launch space craft, create technology and probe the universe. Philosophically we can question it, but to understand the physical world you need to do physical experiments. However humans are not only physical beings. We have spiritual and mental capacities. The joining of all three is the only way to truly explore, the multiverse.

  24. I think we’re only as limited as we believe, there are so many ways to open your mind it’s awesome, You just have to be willing to see things in more than one way but most of the people on this planet are to narrow minded to even bother exploring other possibilities.

  25. We live in space & time & space & time form a relationship which mathematically is (Space + Time = 1). When space goes up, time goes down & vice versa just like a teeter totter. In our space you can only have one thing or living entity in one (x, y, z) position at clock time (t). Thus when a measurement is made in the quantum world only one thing can exist at one (x, y, z) position at clock time (t) in our world because that is the location of the observer. The quantum world, contrary to popular opinion, is based in units of time. Time hasn’t any limits so you can have infinite superpositions & infinite entanglements at one (x, y, z) position at clock time (t). Infinite superpositions & infinite entanglements have to be converted when entering our space world because we live in a limit based space based on yes (1) or no (0) with the primary fraction being (½) or chance. The second assumption is that when a measurement is chosen it can be freely chosen but if you believe that God knows the past, present & future then nothing is random since everything in this world including all species is based on a pattern. Randomness only appears to be random because we don’t know the pattern behind it which we also commonly call bias. The third assumption is incorrect since everything exists in units of time & time hasn’t any limits. For instance, in our world you make a decision at clock time (t). That decision becomes a memory which covers the past. That decision extends into the future & may affect others since our space time moves into the future. Your choice in the quantum world continues to infinity because the quantum world contains all infinite superpositions & infinite entanglements in spite of you moving one into the space world. For instance entanglement between two photons is immediate because the photon exists both in our space world & the quantum world based on units of time. The downside is the information can only be sent in our limited based space world which has the speed of light.

  26. Again ..pradox by dumb scientists who do not understand the difference between “obsrever” and ” measuring device” 100 years foolishness on Schridinger Cat and AGING TWINS in GRelatvity Aristotle and A.Tarski is no taught to you?

  27. Stormy Franklin | October 11, 2020 at 9:33 am | Reply

    I just wanted to take some time to appreciate all the strong minded people here I love seeing everyones opinions on the matters in this newly evolving world where things can change overnight it’s crazy to think how focused we still are on advancing will there ever be a moment where we go to far in the ever advancing world

  28. Mr. Shantilal G Goradia | October 13, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Reply

    The gravity itself is quantum, resolving the issue of dark matter by giving credibility to Feynman’s 1957 view about dark matter, addressing entanglement and making many other implicit suggestions in (1) DOI: 10.24966/AND-9608/100023.

  29. It’s number 3. We already know that entangled pairs can communicate their state changes faster than light. If you choose to measure a state, that measurement is a free will choice.. and it’s influence spreads faster than light.

  30. … this observation might be a paradox within it self, and from withing it self it might generate a infinite array of paradoxes that might end up in a fractal paradox of unknown dimension…

  31. AlwaysUncertain | October 17, 2020 at 5:10 am | Reply

    Bob Copeland: I am fascinated, but I struggle to understand quantum. Thank you for your comment; it helped me tie some things together. As a theologian, however, I advise you to avoid illustrating your points with theological assumptions. There are more theologies and theological assumptions in the world than differing opinions in physics. At best, perhaps, it can be said that quantum physics is our best understanding today of how God decided to do things. Otherwise your personal anthropomorphic theological assumptions will compromise the points you are trying to make.

  32. Roderick Farmer | October 19, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Reply

    Ref: New Quantum . . .
    I am not sure what you are measuring because I am not a physicist. Everything changes. Therefore if you measure a quantum particle it will differ from the beginning of your observation and the end. So each time you measure you are measuring twice. That is if you consider a particle an event, which it is; a moving electrical event. If you are measuring the movement of a particle from point A to point B, that could be considered “a real, single event in the real world”, but it seems your measurement is only two dimensional whereas a particle, if it exists at all, would be three dimensional. Triangulation may open the door to other dimensions thus negating the first assumption.

    The second assumption seems off to me because various settings will differ in relation to the magnetic structure of the observed particle. To me a particle is a magnetic structure. That is why an electron can always be the same throughout the periodic table.

    The third assumption deals with the speed of light. In a complete vacuum the speed of light is instantaneous. A complete vacuum has no time or borders and only existed (or did not exist) at the advent of “the big bang” (Which was the sum total of everything that existed and did not exist in an “event”. The speed of light is relative to the amount of matter in the vacuum. So light in a vacuum can be slower or faster than “C”. The condensed total mass of the galaxy is the same thing as a complete void because the atomic structures of matter are crushed out of existence.

    Thank you for the interesting article, I think I have negated some of the assumptions for you. Please let me know what you think.

  33. I refute it thusly! (Kicks large rock, painfully stubbing big toe!)..

  34. July

    Due to my most humble nature..I have not made an official announcement till now.

    You are ALLLLLL in my simulator;)
    Pretty Good huh! Y’all can’t even tell!!! Be Gooood I’m watchingggg youuuu;)


  35. I don’t think so

  36. The effects of quantum mechanics in terms of a single measurement is dependent on the probability distribution of the interrogated system. But on a larger more classical scale the interaction of all local systems collapses itself through self-interaction, synonymous with waves crashing against the shore and slowly shaping its landscape. Thus quantum systems cannot be scaled up to the classical world because of its emergent property. Feel free to prove otherwise if you can, please educate me. Thanks.

  37. A quantum experiment with different outcomes
    in parallel universes seems weird. For example,an electron diffraction experiment by nucleus never gives weird results regardless
    of the number of experiments involved.

  38. When you say “observer”, are you referring to people or could it be a device? If it is people only, then reality is purely subjective and there is no reason to continue to search out there, right?

  39. I wonder why Human-sight-vision, as well as, Human conscious Thought, can not fit to travel faster than Light !
    When I look at the “Sun”, my Vision-sight ,instantly sees it..! Thought could even be alot faster than Light…!?

  40. Thing is, “science” is a bit disjunct from itself today. If newtonian physics, quantum physics and meta physics, all “labbed-up” together…. if think tanks wore born of these studies coming conjunct and observers became joined with the observed, sharing ideas, knowledge, experiments, experience, matter, energy…. Truth would overcome the limitations of our minds and manifest finally, in this 3/4 dimmentional “reality”. The Possibility of Logic was formed by “man”. It is a limiting construct that convinces man, (through wave interference), to relinquish sovereignty, eventually succumbing to the Gravity Energy. Thus the Light Energy that we and all things (imagined or existent) are, begins to regress. Compress. No longer expanding, as Light does, rather retracting, as does the Dark Matter of say, Sagittarius A. In the end, our choice is relative to our thoughts, relative to our perceptions, relative to our reality, relative to space/time, …. choice is of this dimension only. Beyond this, even “Knowing” is subjective. This goes even beyond “Being”. As humans, it’s time we spread our proverbial wings, shed the chains that bind us, and expand outward as the Light Bodies that we are. Negating NOT, Logic, whilst overcoming, withstanding, innerstanding and appreciating Logic, for the eye opening limitations that it challenges us to address as 3-4 dimensional manifestations. For by addressing these limitations, we continue to grow and expand. Now is time to include the observer in the experiment.
    I have spoken.
    – The Carpenter

  41. Steven M Shenkosky | January 6, 2021 at 7:42 pm | Reply

    All three outcomes fit our very narrow assumptions of our current understanding that only focuses on a very narrow band of our own intrinsic understanding of base reality. We simply are calling our latest theory a truth and making it our reality. In fact we never stop to think of how we are simply held together on an atomic level. What holds you together vs your coffee table or for that matter anything you think is or is not in-between them? We don’t even have a grasp on that end but wish to dig deeper with a spoon full of wash downed arguments from 50 years ago. The truth is we also don’t want to consider that our own base reality has no time at all and that everything is actually all one sold lump with absolutely no room or even sub atomic voids in between. If you think you understand quantum mechanics you already proved you don’t understand it at all. Trying to say it’s all a simulation is an easy man’s way of saying I don’t know. Our reality inside our solar system is moving at a set speed around our little known universe and that universe is also moving around the little known galaxy that is also moving around the little splinter of space we can see. And that space is then moving around the unknown space we can’t see. Since space and Time are untangled we simply have zero ability to tell if that event was actually a big Bang or simply one of an infinity number of very tiny bangs. Thing of each Big Bang as a rain drop hitting your windshield and scale it up. Once you take those measurements into consideration you start to understand that we are so far away from base time that our calculations in quantum time will never line up as we simply are that far down the rabbit hole already.

  42. I nominate each comment here for a Special Postmodern Nobel Peace Prize in Confidence and Confusion, and a gold sticker to honor all the victims of the Information Age.

  43. My dream is to be able to gather all of us into one high tech village surrounded by lots of nature and space to brainstorm and workout these multiversal viewpoints where ever they may go for as long as we wish with unlimited access to the resources needed to explore, chew on, rest, collaborate and feast upon the collective conversations.

  44. What if the interpretation was altered due to the observation being made from our physical world due to some conversion process from the quantum/macro/subatomic dimension. Because our point of observation is governed primarily by law of physics, while the target of the experiment is governed by quantum physics and that separation between the two Universe’s might be the cause of distortion? What if the observation were to be made from the same angle / place of origin as the source? Perhaps an impossible task as any type of device used for measurement would have a physical component to it. Could there be a way to strip all physical attributes of the observer and perform the measurement using just energy, frequencies, sound, etc?

  45. Philippe Martin | April 18, 2021 at 10:37 am | Reply

    Good Day to all of you. I have to say that I wonder if your opinion as different they are. Some seems the same but all have a uniqueness. So, please will be nice to all of us participaded to this. It’s possible that all of us recommente on this, with the may be change of belived as a Little time pass maybe other knowledge bringning a clarity About unknow as be added it this Little gap of time. Anyway we get the concept. I will anwser my understanding arrond the middel of all of you gentleman or Lady is wide open for any one to participade. Sincères amitiés

  46. I suspect the paradox and the mysterious results would be cleared away if we accepted that there is no free will. The second assumption, that we can freely choose experimental settings, is false. If there is no true free will, however, people are going to have a very hard time accepting it. Any other explanation will be entertained before we even consider it because it turns everything upside down. We would rather think there are infinite multiverses that are branching off at each decision or measurement than to believe what is staring us in the face. Free will is an illusion. This will affect everyone from staunch religionists to hardline atheists. It challenges everyone’s view of reality.

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