Computer gamers help a team of physicists to close the "freedom-of-choice" loophole that fails the Bell test experiments to entirely negate Albert Einstein's theory of local realism.
The participation of the international team of video gamers resulted to a conclusion that how people choose to measure or put values in certain elements influence, shape, or at least alter the world. This conclusion challenges Einstein's theory of local realism which states that there is already a definite world separate from an entity where people put measurements and give meaning around it.
With the inputs from these gamers, physicists were able to eliminate free will from the Bell test equation, acquire a deeper understanding of quantum physics applications, and determine fundamental principles of quantum cryptography or quantum computing.
To date, the research becomes the biggest participatory experiment in the study of quantum physics.
Albert Einstein And Neils Bohr
One integral part of Einstein's theory of local realism is that there is a world that exists independently and remains as is even if people apply their own biases and perceptions. The theory also asserts that particles have definite values even before people measure them. Additionally, the theory states that particles are bound by the speed of light.
Neils Bohr, a physicist which lay the foundation of quantum mechanics, however, argued that people create or at least alter the world by putting a value or measuring it. In terms of particles, Bohr asserts that they do not have values until people measure them. Essentially, there is no point talking about an atom, for example, unless people define its characteristics.
John Stewart Bell And The Bell Test
The debate surrounding Einstein's and Bohr's theories remained until another physicist, John Stewart Bell, tested Einstein's premise with regard to the study of physics. Bell concluded that even if hidden local variables are included in his physical equation (the Bell test), Einstein's theory could never yield the results obtained by a quantum mechanical equation.
The Bell test is done with entangled particles, such as photons, being generated and sent to different locations where particles properties or time of arrival are measured.
"If the measurement results tend to agree, regardless of which properties we choose to measure, it implies something very surprising: either the measurement of one particle instantly affects the other particle (despite being far away), or even stranger, the properties never really existed, but rather were created by the measurement itself," reads the physicists' explanation of the Bell test.
For decades, Einstein's theory was challenged by several experiments applying the Bell test. The results had always leaned toward proving Einstein's theory of local realism. This had been the case because past experiments had commonly neglected one factor — the "freedom-of-choice."
The "freedom-of-choice" loophole suggests that a physicist, for example, will decide to measure a quantum particle in his own chosen way. This result may contain bias which is greatly influenced by the physicist's own chosen measurement.
The Big Bell Test Video Game
The physicists, led by ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences, in Barcelona, invited 100,000 gamers to contribute unpredictable sequences of zeros and bits by playing an online video game called The Big Bell Test. The participants played through their smartphones or other internet-connected devices from different locations around the world.
The unpredictable bits from the participants determined how entangled atoms, photons, and superconducting devices were to be measured by the physicists working in 12 laboratories around the world. This means that the physicists had no free will or the "freedom-of-choice" to apply their own chosen measurement to obtain values of the entangled atoms and photons. Instead, the gamers, in effect, were supplying the measurement to them.
The gamers contributed more than 90 million bits, creating the strongest test of Einstein's local realism so far, as well as testing other experiments on realism in quantum mechanics.
Ultimately, the results, detailed in the journal Nature, strongly disagree to Einstein's worldview, close the freedom-of-choice loophole for the first time, and demonstrate several new methods in the study of entanglement and local realism.