最新麻豆视频

Physics

Rethinking reality: Is the entire universe a single quantum object?

In the face of new evidence, physicists are starting to view the cosmos not as made up of disparate layers, but as a quantum whole linked by entanglement

By Heinrich P盲s

5 July 2023

Quantum superposition or quantum entanglement concept illustration. Superposition is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states at the same time until it is measured. Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently.

DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

IMAGINE you could see through everyday objects to the stuff they are made of. If you zoomed in on the arm of a chair, say, you would see that it is made of atoms. Zoom in again and you would see that those atoms contain subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. Zooming further still, you would see that the protons and neutrons are composed of quarks.

These are the layers of reality, and this is how physicists understand the universe: by breaking everything down into its constituent parts, an approach known as reductionism. As a particle physicist, I grew up on this philosophy. It has brought physics a long way 鈥 it is how we built our current picture of matter and its workings, after all. But now, with further progress stalling, I am convinced we need to go about things differently from here.

Rather than zooming ever further inwards, I think we need to zoom out. In doing so, we may see that everything there is, including such seemingly fundamental things as space and time, fragment out of a unified whole. This might sound like philosophy or mysticism, but it is in fact a direct result of applying quantum mechanics to the entire cosmos. When you do that, you realise that the universe isn’t fundamentally made of separate parts at all, but is instead a single, quantum object.

It is a radical idea, and one we are just beginning to test experimentally. But if it is correct, it could help solve some of the most puzzling mysteries in physics and upend the way we think about the…

Sign up to our weekly newsletter

Receive a weekly dose of discovery in your inbox! We'll also keep you up to date with 最新麻豆视频 events and special offers.

Sign up

To continue reading, today with our introductory offers

No commitment, cancel anytime*

Offer ends 2nd of July 2024.

*Cancel anytime within 14 days of payment to receive a refund on unserved issues.

Inclusive of applicable taxes (VAT)

or

Existing subscribers

Sign in to your account