New York: America Association for the Advancement of Science, 2005. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPS: AHARONOV & ZUBAIRY’S 2005 PAPER ON THE QUANTUM ERASER EXPERIMENT. Their paper provides salient history and perspective on, just as the name of the paper alludes, time and the quantum. Specifically, the authors address Scully and Drühl’s quantum eraser experiment – the first successful “quantum eraser” experiment and one that incorporated concepts considered in Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment.
In 1978, Einstein’s last collaborator John Wheeler conducted a milestone thought experiment that has come to be known as Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment. Wheeler’s paper has generated many subsequent quantum experiments, among them the one offered here.
In Wheeler’s 1978 experiment, “a single photon has two paths it could take in an interferometer. In its wave character, the photon will take both paths simultaneously. In its particle character, the photon needs to decide which of the two paths it will take. Wheeler proved, in accordance with quantum mechanics, that the decision whether the photon will behave as a wave or as a particle can be [made] even after it has already entered the interferometer” (Science News, January 9, 2013).
In the paper offered here, Aharonov and Zubairy describe Scully and Drühl’s quantum erasure paper, explaining how it built upon and incorporated concepts in Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment. They address how the “quantum eraser effect of Scully and Drühl dramatically underscores the difference between… classical conceptions of time and how quantum processes can unfold in time. Such eyebrow-raising features of time in quantum mechanics have been labeled "the fallacy of delayed choice and quantum eraser" on the one hand and described ‘as one of the most intriguing effects in quantum mechanics" on the other’. Aharonov and Zubairy discuss how the availability or erasure of information generated in the past can affect how we interpret data in the present. The quantum eraser concept has been studied and extended in many different experiments and scenarios, for example, the entanglement quantum eraser, the kaon quantum eraser, and the use of quantum eraser entanglement to improve microscopic resolution” (Aharonov and Zubairy, p. 875, 2005).
NOTE: We separately offer 3 other important works on delayed choice quantum experiments: (1) “Experimental Realization of Wheeler’s Delayed-Choice Gedanken Experiment” by Alain Aspect, Philippe Grangier, Jean-François Roch, et al. (Science 315 No. 5814 pp. 966–968, February 6, 2007) describes the first successful execution of Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment. (2) “A Quantum Delayed Choice Experiment” by Alberto Peruzzo, Peter J. Shadbolt, Nicolas Brunner, Sandu Popescu, and Jeremy L. O’Brien (Science 338 No. 6107 pp. 634–637, November 2, 2012) and WITHBOUND (3) “Entanglement-Enabled Delayed-Choice Experiment” by Florian Kaiser et al. (Science 338 No. 6107 pp. 637–640, November 2, 2012) demonstrate the “ultimate” delayed choice experiment in which the choice is delayed until after the measurement is made. Item #1169
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