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This classic physics experiment could lastly disclose the long-awaited 'theory of everything'

One of the most famous physics experiment used to prove the extraordinary properties of the quantum world is currently even stranger than we believed, and not only could it force us to reconsider some fundamental features of quantum mechanics and world, it could be the basic key to finally joining the two main theories of modern physics.

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Physicists have discovered signs that a key factor of the classic 'double-slit experiment' could truly be an experiment, and seeing as it seems to interrupt the present laws of physics, experimenting it could give us a completely new way to examine the holes in the quantum world. Let’s start at the beginning, with the famous double-slit test, which provided us one of the oddest experimental conclusions ever witnessed in modern physics. The theory is legitimately simple: you have a sheet with a slit in the center, and you fire Ping-Pong balls through it. They create a mark as they hit a screen behind the sheet. Almost immediately, a pattern will appear on the screen: a straight, perpendicular line reflecting the shape of the slit. If you repeat the test with two perpendicular slits in the sheet, you should end up with two perpendicular lines on the screen behind. Next, you take the sheet with one slit and fire a wave, alike a water or sound wave at it. The wave will pass the slit, and will strike the screen behind with its maximum intense point being straightly in line with the slit.

In other words, the intensity of the wave will continuously hit the screen in a conventional line behind the slit, just similar to the Ping-Pong balls. But when you strike the waves through double slits, they will start to jumble with each other and will generate what’s known as an interference arrangement. That means there won't be dual clear lines behind the slits, but an arrangement of numerous lines with empty spaces in between. See the pattern or arrangement at the top of the page. That’s not so odd, though, we know that matter, Ping-Pong balls, does not act in a similar way as waves. But when physicists strike particles like electrons and light (photons) at the double slit, supposing them to behave like matter (Ping-Pong balls), they instead behaved like waves, generating an interference arrangement.

And it gets even weirder than that. These electrons and photons are not behaving like matter, but they are not behaving like waves either, for the reason that they are not messing with everyone to produce an interference arrangement.  We know this because if you strike electrons or photons at the double slit board or sheet one at a time, they will still finally produce the interference arrangement.

NekoJaNekoJa/Wikimedia

That have to be impossible because these single components cannot possibly distinguish where the next component will position itself, or where the component before it have finished, so how on earth could they generate this pattern with no interaction? The test is the perfect instance of how the quantum world and mechanics acts entirely in a different way to matter on a bigger scale but also demonstrates how there are severe gaps in our knowledge of quantum mechanics because we just cannot explain it. As hypothetical physicist Richard Feynman once assumed, this experiment shows the "chief mystery" of the quantum world.

Actually, Feynman even went as far as this to call it the "single mystery" of quantum mechanics, and it could be the essential key to working out why our two important theories of physics, quantum mechanics, and general relativity, simply do not match up. Amusingly enough, we can simply calculate where an electron or photon will result in on the screen throughout the double-slit experiment, even if we do not realize at all why they do it. The calculations are established on a source called the Born rule, but it has its own glitches, as Anil Ananthaswamy describes for New Scientist:

"There is no essential reason why the Born rule must hold. It appears to work in completely the circumstances we have tested, but no one sees why. Some have tried to develop it from the 'numerous worlds' understanding of quantum mechanics, which suggests that all the imaginable positions of a quantum system could occur in different, parallel universes. But such efforts have been questionable."

Because the Born rule cannot be described by every present understanding of physics, it could be the main key to the explanation of some of the fundamental breaks in the present laws of quantum mechanics, and why no physicist has ever achieved to faultlessly partner it with Einstein's theory of universal relativity to make a much-coveted and merging 'theory of everything'. Mostly, if you can work out how to 'break' or interrupt the Born rule, you have actually found the precise spot where our present understanding of quantum mechanics is lacking. James Quach at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) in Spain said to Ananthaswarmy, "If the Born rule is violated, then a fundamental axiom of quantum mechanics has been violated, and it should point to where one needs to go to find quantum gravitational theories

And he's now suggested a method that we could interrupt the Born rule, and in fact test this violation in experiments. In his new paper, Quach defines how if you study all the potentials for where an electron or photon could finish on the screen as it is strike through the double-slit panel, there could be particularly strange, 'non-classical' paths that will lead to unique interference arrangements that the Born rule cannot estimate.

Quach says, this is built on something that Feynman himself had planned back in 1948, which, “all imaginable paths between points add to the wave function. This even contains paths that pass through one slit then the additional before hitting the screen.” This provides us three possible paths for the component instead of two: the first path is passing through slit A; the second path is going in the direction of slit B, and the third path is going in the direction of the screen from slit B.

James Quach

Ananthaswarmy says, "Quach displays that if you explain interference between all three paths, the chances will be different from what the Born rule calculates. Quach suggests that you can experiment this by taking two detectors positioned after the double-slit panel: one that senses whether a particle or component has gone through slit A or B, and a different that detects that a particle or component has gone through one or both slits, but does not identify which one.

Quach says, "The presence of these non-classical paths provides higher-order improvements to the interference patterns."

To be clear, his suggestion has yet to be officially peer-reviewed, so this is just the start of an idea, and it's currently been put up for inspection by the physics communal on the preprint website, arXiv.org.

Nonetheless, this is something that physicists have been at work on for more than 50 years now, and we keep seeing indications that it could work. With any luck, somebody is going to take Quach up on his suggestion and attempts this thing out for genuine, because it could expose what we have mislaid in our major understanding of the truth.

Quach's paper is available online here.

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