A groundbreaking quantum experiment recently confirmed the reality of “spooky action-at-a-distance” — the bizarre phenomenon that Einstein hated — in which linked particles seemingly communicate faster than the speed of light.
And all it took was 12 teams of physicists in 10 countries, more than 100,000 volunteer gamers and over 97 million data units — all of which were randomly generated by hand.
The volunteers operated from locations around the world, playing an online video game on Nov. 30, 2016, that produced millions of bits, or “binary digits” — the smallest unit of computer data.
Physicists then used those random bits in so-called Bell tests, designed to show that entangled particles, or particles whose states are mysteriously linked, can somehow transfer information faster than light can travel, and that these particles seem to “choose” their states at the moment they are measured. [What Is Quantum Mechanics?]
Their findings, recently reported in a new study, contradicted Einstein’s description of a state known as “local realism,” study co-author Morgan Mitchell, a professor of quantum optics at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, told Live Science in an email.
“We showed that Einstein’s world-view of local realism, in which things have properties whether or not you observe them, and no influence travels faster than light, cannot be true — at least one of those things must be false,” Mitchell said.
This introduces the likelihood of two mind-bending scenarios: Either our observations of the world actually change it, or particles are communicating with each other in some manner that we can’t see or influence.
“Or possibly both,” Mitchell added.