As far as quantum physics goes, there may be no such thing as a shared objective reality.
A new quantum physics experiment just lent evidence to a mind-boggling idea that was previously just considered a highly likely theory, according to the MIT Technology Review. This new experiment shows us that under the right conditions, two people can observe the same thing that’s taking place and see two different things happen. And both will be correct.
According to research shared to the preprint server arXiv on Tuesday, physicists from Heriot-Watt University demonstrated for the first time how two people can experience different realities by recreating a classic quantum physics thought experiment.
The experiment used the buddy system
This MIT Technology experiment involves two people observing a single photon, the smallest quantifiable unit of light that can act as either a particle or a wave under different conditions.
The photon can exist in one of two alignments, but until the moment someone actually measures it to determine which, the photon is said to exist in a superposition – both conditions are true at the same time.
In the thought experiment, a scientist quietly analyzes the photon and determines its alignment. Another scientist, unaware of the first’s measurement, is able to confirm that the photon – and thus the first scientist’s measurement – still exists in a quantum superposition of all possible outcomes.
As a result, each scientist experienced a different reality. But the experiment tells us that both are technically true, even though they disagree with each other.
It tried to shed some light on a hot topic
The experimental setup used in order to bring this idea from a simple thought to reality, involved some lasers, beam splitters, and a series of six photons that were measured by various pieces of equipment that stood in for the two scientists.
Other researchers previously devised the experimental setup, according to MIT Tech, but this is the first time that anyone managed to obtain any success with it.
Though the research has yet to be vetted and published by an academic journal, its findings lend real evidence to the sort of brain-melting ideas that wow physics undergrads – when it comes to the realm of quantum physics, there may be no such thing as a shared objective reality.