Mar 18, 2009 | 1
Earlier this week, the Templeton Foundation announced the 2009 winner of its $1.4 million Templeton Prize, French physicist and philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat. He is best known for his work to understand and test one of the strangest predictions of the theory of quantum mechanics: that particles are uncannily good players of The Newlywed Game. Pairs of them can give exactly the same responses to measurements conducted on them at the same time in isolated booths.
In the 1960s, physicist John Stewart Bell derived a set of mathematical inequalities that the responses would obey if the particles had some kind of a built-in cheat sheet. But d’Espagnat, Alain Aspect, and other experimenters found that particles violate these inequalities. Somehow the particles retain an intimate connection that transcends space. Physicists, even the most romantically inclined among them, have yet to fathom it.
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