Does quantum theory apply at all scales, including that of observers? New light on this fundamental question has recently been shed through a resurgence of interest in the long-standing Wigner’s friend paradox. This is a thought experiment addressing the quantum measurement problem—the difficulty of reconciling the (unitary, deterministic) evolution of isolated systems and the (non-unitary, probabilistic) state update after a measurement. Here, by building on a scenario with two separated but entangled friends introduced by Brukner, we prove that if quantum evolution is controllable on the scale of an observer, then one of ‘No-Superdeterminism’, ‘Locality’ or ‘Absoluteness of Observed Events’—that every observed event exists absolutely, not relatively—must be false. We show that although the violation of Bell-type inequalities in such scenarios is not in general sufficient to demonstrate the contradiction between those three assumptions, new inequalities can be derived, in a theory-independent manner, that are violated by quantum correlations. This is demonstrated in a proof-of-principle experiment where a photon’s path is deemed an observer. We discuss how this new theorem places strictly stronger constraints on physical reality than Bell’s theorem.
The 2023 Boyer Lecture series is called 'The Atomic Revolution' and is presented by Professor Michelle Simmons AO, a pioneer in atomic electronics and global leader in quantum computing.READ
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