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Entanglement and the vacuum

  1. Dec 19, 2009 #1
    I only studied basis quantum physics as a graduate, my main focus was on light technology and I didn't carry it much further from there. But the passion for understanding how the world works remains.

    Basically, I was wondering what would happen if one were to explain quantum phenomena not so much as something that is a property of particles/fields and their interactions, but of a interaction of particles/fields in a quantum-phrased version of the ether; let's call it a vacuum.

    Example: the tunneling effect of electrons is not so much possible because short-time fluctuations in energy are possible and present in the electrons, but because vacuum fluctuations give the electron or electrons an extra shove, allowign them to tunnel.

    At first glance, this explanation seems equivalent to the original one, similar to Lorentz' ether explanation in pre-relativity times.

    The other example that could be investigated is entanglement. If entanglement becomes a property of the vacuum fluctuations (something that is always there, everywhere), that seems as sensible enough to consider as an explanation...

    Basically, what I'm hoping for as a response is an experiment that shows why this interpretation will come into problems. If it doesn't, at least I know that I'm making a merely metaphysical suggestion here, and I should consider it as such.

    Awaiting your response,
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2009 #2


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    You need to come out with the model that produce a quantitative description of the tunneling current based on your hypothesis. What you've described is vague and, really, unfalsifiable. You need to show how, with changing barrier potential and width, that you can get the same experimental result. Till then, there's nothing to show if you're right or wrong.

  4. Dec 19, 2009 #3


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    As ZapperZ says (and you suggest too), there is a metaphysical aspect to your hypothesis. We would imagine that virtual particle pairs are entangled (as spin must add to zero), so I can see how you might arrive at your hypothesis. I believe I have even seen a paper that loosely maps to your idea (although not what I would call generally accepted - it is purely theoretical).

    But even virtual particles exhibit quantum effects, and many quantum effects have apparently nothing to do with virtual particles. So it seems a stretch to speculate that they are the source themselves. For example, how to explain quantum non-locality? Or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? You end up trying to use the virtual particles in a classical fashion, and that just doesn't fit with experiment.

    So I can't think of any experiment that supports your idea, but you would need to be more specific to get a citation to one that rules it out.
  5. Dec 21, 2009 #4
    Ok, that makes sense. It does give me the impression that even as a metaphysical concept, the idea could get into problems when tracing out the consequences.
    If I manage to substantiate a reasonable system, I'll return to this thread, but if not you can expect this thread to die a slow death.

    Thanks though for considering the thought.
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