Quan­tum the­ory needs your help

BIG Bell Test re­quires at least 30,000 ran­dom par­tic­i­pants to com­plete a six-level video game

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CHENG YINGQI in Bei­jing and ZHU LIXIN in He­fei Con­tact the writ­ers at zhulixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

If you’ve ever wanted to chal­lenge the the­o­ries of Al­bert Ein­stein, here’s your chance.

You don’t need a PhD in physics or have to un­der­stand com­plex math­e­mat­i­cal for­mu­las. All it takes is play­ing a six-level video game on the in­ter­net.

If only col­lege sim­ple.

The game re­quires you to type ran­dom se­quences of ones and ze­ros, which are sent to 12 labs across the world that use thenum­bersin their quan­tum ex­per­i­ments.

To test a ba­sic law of quan­tum physics, for ex­am­ple, the BIG Bell Test needs at least 30,000 par­tic­i­pants.

“The most fas­ci­nat­ing thing about the BIG Bell Test is that peo­ple and sci­en­tists play an equally im­por­tant role in the suc­cess of the ex­per­i­ment. It is a unique op­por­tu­nity for bring­ing fron­tier re­search in quan­tum physics closer to peo­ple,” said Car­los Abel­lan, aPhDs­tu­dent at the In­sti­tute of Pho­tonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, and ini­tia­tor of the project.

In the early 20th cen­tury, Ein­stein and Dan­ish physi­cist Niels Bohrhada se­ries of pub­lic dis­putes about quan­tum en­tan­gle­ment — a quan­tum me­chan­i­cal phe­nom­e­non in were that Car­los Abel­lan, which the quan­tum states of two or­more­ob­jects have to be de­scribed with ref­er­ence to each other, even though the in­di­vid­ual ob­jects­may be spa­tially sep­a­rated.

In 1964, Ir­ish the­o­rist John Bell showed that the po­si­tions of Bohr and Ein­stein could lead to dif­fer­ent pre­dic­tions. He wrote down in­equal­i­ties and de­signed ex­per­i­ments that could set­tle the ar­gu­ment.

Bell’s ex­per­i­ments have been car­ried out re­peat­edly in the past half cen­tury, with re­sults agree­ing with Niels’ po­si­tion, but they could not be taken as rig­or­ous proof of the va­lid­ity of quan­tum the­ory due to in­ad­e­quate gen­er­a­tion of ran­dom num­bers.

Com­put­ers, for ex­am­ple, can be used to gen­er­ate ran­dom­num­bers. How­ever, they need to use some type of process or pro­gram, mean­ing that ul­ti­mately, the num­bers are not purely ran­dom.

“The BIG Bell Test trusts in the strength of peo­ple’s free will. By play­ing the games, the gen­eral par­tic­i­pants will be the ones who con­trol pa­ram­e­ters of the ex­per­i­men­tal de­vice in each lab,” said Zhang Qiang, a re­searcher from theUniver­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy ofChina, one of the 12 par­tic­i­pant labs.

Yao Qiong, 30, from He­fei, An­hui province, said she would take part in the BIG Bell Test out of cu­rios­ity.

“Quan­tum sci­ence is too com­pli­cated to un­der­stand for or­di­nary peo­ple like me, but I think it is cool to have a chance to con­trib­ute to such a great ex­per­i­ment. I will feel proud when the ex­per­i­ment is writ­ten into sci­ence text­books and tech­nol­ogy his­tory,” Yao said.

“As for whether the re­sult agrees with Niels or Ein­stein, that is the in­ter­est of sci­en­tists,” she said.

Those who are in­ter­ested can go to the­big­bell­test.org or tbbt.ustc.edu.cn to con­trib­ute. The game takes about 10 min­utes and is to run from 10 pm on Tues­day to 2:59 pm on Thurs­day Bei­jing time.

The most fas­ci­nat­ing thing ... is that peo­ple and sci­en­tists play an equally im­por­tant role in the suc­cess of the ex­per­i­ment.”

PhD stu­dent at the In­sti­tute of Pho­tonic Sciences

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