Music from Dark Matter
On September 21, 2007 I stumbled on an article named “Imaging Quantum Entanglement”: ….”An international team including scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) have just published findings in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (PNAS) demonstrating the dramatic effects of quantum mechanics in a simple magnet.” ….”The key result is that the researchers demonstrate that neutrons can detect entanglement, the key resource for quantum computing”.The article was published on ‘DailyScience’ a popularization site of science news.
I asked myself, is the average news reader interested in science news without an attractive story, something like “Cambridge makes music from ‘dark energy’ “… An invisible force so mysterious that it has yet to be understood by even the most eminent astronomers is being turned into music at a new Cambridge University exhibition… “If you can interest people in the sounds of space, they start to engage with where those sounds come from and thus the scientific ideas the artists are responding to. Hopefully by turning the data into sound art, we can take this particular bit of science to a much wider community”, see here.
The article I found, “Imaging Quantum Entanglement”, has no music to propose and introduce directly to his audience hard core science whose content presuppose some knowledge on neutron beams, ghostly entangled states of the quantum world, magnetism, uncertainties of quantum mechanics, classical (world), quantum (world) etc.
Lubos Motl, a theoretical physicist, address the same subject of science news in his blog “The Reference Frame”,..”Laymen have a good idea what scientists think, what principles they find reliable, and why they do so”. He continue on the negative side ..”Unfortunately, it is not the case. Laymen typically not only misunderstand what are the correct answers to technical questions. They also fail to get a correct sociological picture of science - what questions are important, how difficult it is to work on one problem or another, who is believed or respected and why, what is “normal” to say in different contexts, and so on.
This failure of laymen to get a realistic picture of science is not just a fault of the media and science communication: it is largely a fault of the laymen themselves who often prefer colorful conspiracy theories about the interactions of people over the actual technical content of science. The truth found by science is OK but it is arguably too boring for too many people. Myths are sometimes better even if they are entirely untrue.” see here, (the concluding paragraph).
Lubos complains about the layman not paying attention to the technical content of science. Now, for this specific article, what are those technicals aspects ? To cite only a few , the layman has to know that between Classical an Quantum there exist a spooky ‘boundary’, and crossing this boundary replace the classical ‘OR’ (left picture) with the quantum state equation ( right picture) of the form |w>= a|00> + b|11>,( from here the difference between the two pictures).
Respectively, the ‘OR’ of the classical world, our everyday world, (in the left picture) tell us there are only one of two possible outcomes for the alignment of the magnets, and the quantum state equation, the hidden quantum world, (right picture) encapsulate the entangled state of the magnets, having no knowledge of their individual states, so that the measurement of one state instantaneously influence the second state ,( in the general case ‘a’ and ‘b’ are probabilities amplitudes allowing one of many possible independent outcomes). And further, why is it so important to be able to find entangled states in ordinary matter? because the entanglement of the magnets ( their spins in superposition ) are today considered as a natural physical resource just like crude oil and coal, and can be the ‘fuel’ to use and build quantum computer.. And so on, and so on.
The layman has the arduous task to put all this together, and if he does, perhaps is he not a layman. Scientific technical news cannot properly be translated in plain language and is not well fit for the media. Metaphorical language and imagery is only a palliative, a very impressive one (..the Cambridge dark-matter-music..), but leading to story telling, leaving the core of the scientific achievement buried in the math and the physics. What is left in the mind of the great public is something like the myth of Einstein’s icon:
(BTW,Perhaps few people know that the equation existed before Einstein see here)