Quantum mechanics: context does matter

I’ve blathered on about quantum mechanics enough to make clear – if it wasn’t already – that it’s deeply non-intuitive stuff.

One way that some thinkers (including Einstein) try to get around the apparently statistical (they felt, random) nature of quantum behaviour is viahidden variables. This theory is that there are other factors, or laws, or powers, or effects at play that we simply haven’t discovered yet. If we did, we’d see that quantum mechanics is actually deterministic, not statistical or determined by things like whether we’re observing behaviour or not, and would fit more comfortably into the way we think the world works.

This has always seemed like wishful thinking to me.

Now some scientists at the Austrian Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (I blogged about their experiments in larger-scale entanglementin June) have shown that quantum behavior cannot be explained away by non-contextual models of hidden variables. The freaky behaviour stays.

Read more about it at ScienceDaily or in the current issue of Nature.