I don’t remember who pointed me at this transcript of Deepak Chopra interviewing Michio Kaku, but if I remember who it was, I fully intend to hate them.
DC: Is our conversation affecting something in another galaxy right now?
MK: In principle. What we’re talking about right is affecting another galaxy far, far beyond the Milky Way Galaxy. Now when the Big Bang took place we think that most of the matter probably was vibrating in unison.
DC: So it was already correlated?
MK: It was already correlated. We call this coherence or correlation. As the universe expanded, we’re still correlated, we’re still bound by these invisible webs. You can’t see them. The book Physics of the Impossible is being filmed for the Science Channel and we actually filmed this quantum entanglement.
DC: You actually demonstrated this?
MK: We actually demonstrated it right on TV cameras. We went to the University of Maryland outside Baltimore and we showed an atom being teleported right across the room. You can actually see two chambers, an atom in one being zapped across the room. A TV screen shows the blip whenever an atom is being teleported and this is non-local matter.
DC: That means going from here to there without the space in between?
MK: That’s right it just disappears and reappears to someplace else.
The whole thing is like this. It’s just brimful of gibberish. I mean, I expect Chopra to sound like a character from Star Trek, that’s his shtick, but Kaku claims to be a scientist. He’s on every other show on the goddamn Science Channel, and here he is spouting New Age twaddle and grossly misrepresenting good science.
It’s a measure of the incoherence of this whole mess that Kaku can’t even locate the experiment properly– at least, I assume he’s talking about Chris Monroe’s experiments at the University of Maryland. I suppose technically College Park is “outside Baltimore,” but by that definition, so is Philadelphia.
More importantly, they don’t teleport atoms from one place to another. At the start of the experiment, they have a ytterbium ion in a trap on one side of the lab, and a second atom in a second trap a meter or so away. They teleport the state of one ion to another– at the end of the experiment, the second atom is in exactly the same quantum state that the first one was at the start of the experiment. No material objects “disappear and reappear someplace else”– you have two ions at the start, and two ions at the end, and two ions at every instant in between.
The teleportation is also not instantaneous. The quantum teleportation protocol requires information to be sent from one trap to the other at a speed less than or equal to that of light. This is fudged a little in the Maryland experiment, as the way they establish the entanglement gives them only one of the four possible output states, so they have advance knowledge of where it will end up, but in a more comprehensive system, the teleportation is not complete until a final adjustment is made to the target ion based on information obtained from measuring something about the sender. Quantum teleportation is not magic, it’s perfectly consistent with both relativity and quantum mechanics.
And they’re not using any mystical entanglement that dates from the Big Bang to teleport states. They have to work very hard to get the states of their two ions entangled for the experiment– their success rate is something like one teleportation every 12 minutes. That’s the main reason why their experiment is impressive– getting the entanglement to work is a great technical achievement (as explained in my ResearchBlogging post on the experiment). It’s not something that we get for free because all matter used to be in the same place fourteen billion years ago, or whatever New Age idiocy Chopra’s peddling this week.
And the whole interview is like this– this segment is just the part that I’m in the best position to evaluate. Between the two of them, though, they manage to say all manner of idiotic things about physics, biology, cosmology, and computing. Among other subjects.
Somebody ought to be ashamed of this. Ideally, Kaku would be, but that’s clearly not possible given that he went on Deepak Chopra’s radio show in the first place. But somebody ought to be ashamed. I’m just not sure who– the Huffington Post? the Science Channel? Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the Web that let me read this gibberish? Guglielmo Marconi for inventing radio?
I don’t really care who, but there better be some shame around here somewhere. Because this is completely ridiculous. Jesus, my dog could give a better description of the relevant physics, and she doesn’t have a Ph.D., let alone a tv show…