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Hypothesis about Quantum Interference in Time

  1. Feb 5, 2008 #1
    So this is a question and not a quack theroy. :) I'm sure it's wrong but I am just looking for confirmation that this has been thought of and experimentally proven wrong.

    Simple question is - is it possible that the quanta interfere with each other in time as well as space?

    In other words: send a stream of electrons through a double slit . The electrons we all know distribute in the famous interference pattern despite the fact that they go through one at a time. So say we have a stream of electrons:

    e1, e2, e3, e4....eN

    Is it possible as e2 is emitted, it is actually interacting with e1 (from a few seconds prior, but in the same space) to create the interference pattern? And that e3 and e2 are interfering? Etc.?

    I would think the way to test this would be to separate the single electrons by long lengths of time, maybe minutes, or hours, and see if the interference pattern looks any different. Alternatively, set up 10 double slits lined up in a row, and send a single electron through each one, and likewise see if there's a distribution pattern when the 10 results are superimposed.

    I know that existing QM predicts that this won't change anything, because the experimental setup itself dictates the wave functions and these wouldn't depend on the temporal separation of the particles. But has it been tried?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2008 #2


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  4. Feb 5, 2008 #3
    Damn it! I'm always a couple of years late for my Nobel. :p

    Absolutely fascinating. The experiment is displaying quantum interference between electrons each emitted at one of two different possible random times (i.e. either of the two maxima of the electric cycle). It literally is a double-slit in time and it shows that quantum interference takes place in time as well as space.

    My question is slightly different though - I'm asking if the whole business can be explained with temporal interference. What would the distribution look like if we lined up 100 double slits and shot an electron at each one of them and looked at the superimposed distribution? Would it be the same? Again, QM says yes, but has it been tested?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2008
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