Can an oil bath solve the mysteries of the quantum world?

Nov 01, 2013

For the past eight years, two French researchers have been bouncing droplets around a vibrating oil bath and observing their unique behaviour. What sounds like a high-school experiment has in fact provided the first ever evidence that the strange features of the quantum world can be reproduced on a macroscopic scale.

Now, many researchers are asking if the oil-bath experiments can provide insights into quantum mechanics and more specifically why particles can behave as waves and waves can behave as particles.

In this month's issue of Physics World, Jon Cartwright takes a closer look at some of the key experiments performed by the French pair but finds that not all are convinced that they will lead to a deeper understanding.

The French physicist Louis de Broglie was the first to describe wave–particle duality in 1926 but the phenomenon has since been very difficult to understand because no-one has ever observed something being both a particle and a wave in the everyday world.

That was until 2005, when Yves Couder and Emmanuel Fort found that when droplets of oil were released onto the surface of a vibrating oil bath, they started to bounce up and down instead of becoming immersed in the liquid, creating a series of waves beneath them. By adjusting the amplitude of the vibrations, they could make the droplets land on the crest of the waves and bounce around the bath.

These wave-droplets – or "walkers" as the researchers called them – appeared to be the first evidence of wave–particle duality on a . The waves could not exist without the droplets and the could not move without the waves.

In the years after the initial experiments, Couder and Fort used the oil bath to perform several of the classic experiments in quantum mechanics – including Young's double-slit experiment – and found that the walkers exhibited many similarities to the entities used in the original experiments.

One area where the walkers' analogy with quantum mechanics fails, however, is entanglement – the weirdest quantum phenomenon of all that describes how the physical state of two particles can be intricately linked no matter how far apart in the universe they are.

For this to happen, a wave must occupy a very high number of dimensions so can affect one another over large distances, faster than the speed of light. However, in a walker system the will always occupy just two dimensions, given by the length and width of the oil tank.

"If one thinks of [entanglement] as central to quantum theory, it cannot possibly be reproduced in the [walker] system," Tim Maudlin of New York University told Physics World.

Indeed, the magazine contacted a number of physicists and philosophers with a background in quantum foundations, and found that most were sceptical that the walker systems could shed light on the mysteries of the .

On whether Couder and Fort's work can inspire physicists to find a theory deeper than , Cartwright concludes: "It may be too soon to tell, but one point does seem clear: every time they look, the researchers find more ways in which walkers exhibit supposedly quantum behaviour."

Explore further: Strange behavior of bouncing drops demonstrates pilot-wave dynamics in action (w/ Video)

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tadchem
1 / 5 (13) Nov 01, 2013
"...has in fact provided the first ever evidence that the strange features of the quantum world can be reproduced on a macroscopic scale"?
I thought that distinction went to the Millikan oil drop experiment in 1909, which demonstrated the quantization of electric charge with sufficient precision to measure the charge on a single electron.
tadchem
1 / 5 (13) Nov 01, 2013
As to the wave-particle duality, the answer is that waves and particles are separate manifestations of a third mathematical quantity, the four-tensor. Measurements of an object which can be represented by a four-tensor will be reduced in dimensionality (depending on the measurement operator applied) to either a 'particle' (a diagonalized tensor) or a 'wave' (an antisymmetric tensor), with properties dependent on the relative motion of the four-tensor and the frame of reference used for defining the operatior applied to the tensor.
Jarek
1 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2013
Different entities which can be seen classically, but undergo quantum phenomenas are (topological) solitons, like fluxons/Abrikosov vortices, for which the fact that we can literally see their trajectories, does not prevent interference for them: http://pra.aps.or.../p3541_1

So maybe we can ask about internal structure of particles - search for soliton particle models?
buxcador
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2013
If one thinks of [entanglement] as central to quantum theory, it cannot possibly be reproduced in the [walker] system
I see, the physicists are starting to think about dense aether model... The point indeed isn't, that the water surface http://aetherwave...ent.html multiple droplets entangled.

the weirdest quantum phenomenon of all that describes how the physical state of two particles can be intricately linked no matter how far apart in the universe they are


In reality the entanglement can never apply to infinite distance due the decoherence, even at the case of photons this distance.

The video shows interaction of the particle with his own wave. It shows analog physics to the particle/wave duality. Correct me if I'm wrong, but entanglement is a different thing.
LarryD
2 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2013
The surface ripples are spreading with speed of 0.2 meters/second, which corresponds the speed of light 300.000 kilometers/second, i.e. 1.5 billion-times slower. If the maximal decoherence distance of photons observed is some 1000 km, then at the water surface it would correspond the distance in the millimeter range, which the surface droplets maintain easily.

etc.....
Okay,I'm a layman with no real axe to grind so in some ways I am just a little more open minded than those entrenched. I have to be because I don't possess the expert knowledge and rely on what the experts say (aether and non-aether alike). So I can ask all sorts of questions which some might see as very basic, elementary or even stupid. But that's okay because I can claim ignorance.
So here is my very simple basic elementary question for you:
Convince me that the analogy of water waves at 0.2m/s is a valid construction/comparison for light at 2.998x10^8m/s!
cont.
LarryD
2 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2013
cont.
The matter/light analogy is going all the way and therefore I would expect consequences to go at least 75% of that if not 100%. Convince me that this is so!
Percival
1 / 5 (8) Nov 02, 2013
"For [entanglement] to happen, a wave must occupy a very high number of dimensions so particles can affect one another over large distances, faster than the speed of light. However, in a walker system the waves will always occupy just two dimensions, given by the length and width of the oil tank."

Suppose a layer of another oil, immiscible with the oil bath, is floated on the surface of the bath? That would provide another dimension for the waves to occupy. If the speed of sound in the second layer is sufficiently different from that of the bath, the time-varying thickness (waveheight) of the floating oil can be independent of the waves in the bath.

That means the droplets must be of the same composition as the floating oil, I think. Suppose they're not, suppose instead they are the same oil as that in the bath?

Can the droplets be given spin before being dropped? Would that have any effect on their interactions?
Zephir_fan
Nov 02, 2013
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Zephir_fan
Nov 02, 2013
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LarryD
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 02, 2013
@Teech2, 'Well, just convince me, it isn't....' Oh come on, don't play games with a simple question. Yes I am aware of the topological theories involved (but only at the basic level) such as the pool solitions connected via a 'string'. But these are more suitable to SString theory because, as you quote '...hyperdimensional solitonic character...'.
However, from what I have read about QAT (based on body centered structure) there are only 3D which are absolute. Photons and c are due to rotations of the constituents of the cubic matrix.
It seems to me as a clash between DAT at the macro level with QAT at the micro level. A unification problem? Where have I heard that before?
Captain Stumpy
1.6 / 5 (13) Nov 03, 2013
@ LarryD

good luck getting ANY real data or logical information from Zephyr / Franklins / Teech2 etc. in fact, i have been asking for empirical data since i arrived on this site. still nothing.
in fact, i only get links to spam sites or bullcrap Troll data, or data disproved a century ago... or links to sites that only makes sense when totally pissed on something akin to homemade white lightning. he/they/it LOVES to use that wave/water spider analogy though! you WILL see it a lot! again. and again. and again.
Dont let me get you down, though! if YOU can get it from him/her/it... GO right AHEAD! GOOD LUCK

@Teech2 / Franklins / whomever
STILL WAITING!
LarryD
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 03, 2013
@Teech2 'of surface/volume ratio for closely packed N-dimensional hyperspheres...'
Yes, as I thought, this is an AT counterpart of SString theory with compactified dimensions to satisfy the '...random and infinitely dense...' idea. But just because one can calculate extra dimensions with some simple maths this doesn't mean that they exist. No one yet has managed to detect the simplest N dimensional tesseract even there are plenty of suggestions of how such might be formed.
Be aware also that higher dimensions will have an effect on gravitational force so if you are suggesting that there are higher dimensions in DAT these higher dimension will not give the same value that we experience. One reason why such dimensions are considered mathematical entities only, which you are accusing mainstream for using yet DAT, according to your ideas, is doing the same thing.
Most of what you have presented is simply a rather elaborate synchronicity theory.
No, you haven't convinced me yet.
LarryD
1.9 / 5 (9) Nov 03, 2013
Captain Stumpy, yes I have to agree with you. At least SString theory has the maths to go with it (some of it cutting edge stuff) and that makes it look rather elegant and persuasive. But all those dimensions...I can just about handle 3 let alone 22 or more ha!
LarryD
1 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2013
There is nothing I would like more than to see a TOE that describes reality in a way that most layman could understand but unfortunately I don't think it is possible. Dichotomy is natural and even AWT at some point must be based on some form of Q(M)AT. The body centered cube composed of spherical etherons claims to permeate all matter and space but at the same also states that there is (in total approx) 30% of the cubic structure that lacks anything. This is apparently, necessary for the elastic propterties but it seems that even here some of this 30% remains unfilled. So this means that there is space between the aetherons that is not permeated by the aether.
Duality also seems to be a problem for many (including AT) but it isn't a problem for me. Duality is all around us and you can't have action without consequence, defence is attack etc. so but QAT does not support wave/particle duality. It would seem that wave/particle duality is merely consistent with reality.
LarryD
1 / 5 (3) Nov 04, 2013
..the body centered cube composed of spherical etherons claims to permeate all matter...
Why just 3D cube, why body centered cube? This is ad-hoced constrain. The most compact hypersphere packing is http://aetherwave...ory.html too).

But you are still talking at least 4D and QAT denies this...another quote from QADynamics is:
'A dimension, as defined here, is a non-material, measurable quality relating to the foundation of existence and being.
As far as I know we can only relate our existence and being to 3D.
APM, yet another ether quantum theory doesn't use other dimensions for its basis but uses the standard model with some interesting (for me anyway) alernative interpretations.
It would seem to me that a major problem for AT is that there are so many of them ranging from Std. Mod. to SSting. Maybe mainstream science does have problems but so has AT!
LarryD
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2013
@Teech2 'For example, did you ever try to think about...'. Yes, actually I'm quite keen on higher dimensional theories and I have one or two of my own regarding Time itself (which I have posted on other threads). But I haven't yet come up with anything testable, well certainly as far as the maths is concerned. So I am NOT completely against AT, SString, Twister or Std. Mod etc. theories because they all have something to offer.
I have a basic quest for knowledge and opinions and there is no lacking of the latter on this forum Ha!
You might notice that while others may directly attack AT as being rubbish (or words to that effect) and I might agree with some of their points, I don't deny it outright. I just have reservations, but that goes for the other theories too.
jch
Nov 06, 2013
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jch
1 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2013
These bouncing drop experiments are an inspiration for my quest for the ``small'' part of a Theory of Everything. The fractal postulate suggests some our-sized, mechanical analog must exist for the behavior of light. The drop experiments seem to be it. The walkers show several quantum world features including self-organizing lattice structure, single particle diffraction, quantized orbits, orbital level splitting, tunneling effects, and wave-like statistics. (See the paper of these comments for references).

Other quantum world observations are also suggested such as quantum entanglement (or quantum weirdness). The speed of the walking droplet is analogous to the speed of light (photon). The speed of the wave in the bath (Einstein's gravitational ether now called ``space'' in general relativity or Descartes' plenum) is much higher than the speed of the drop. Once 2 drops are coupled as one of the videos shows, the matched frequency and phase travels mush faster than the drop (photon).
jch
1 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2013
Cont.
For example, a person speaks loudly through the air and into a microphone that transmits a radio signal. Another person has a radio receiver TUNED to the radio signal. The other hears the speech from the radio before hearing it through the air. Only a faster than light ether wave speed and wave frequency effects are required for quantum entanglement.

A slightly disturbing feature of the experiment is the need for a constant energy input provided by the vibrator of the bath. This suggests mass inertial plays a role in the mechanism. Another is the bath must be kept near the vibrating condition. How can these conditions be attained in the quantum realm?
jch
1 / 5 (3) Nov 08, 2013
(cont.)
This paper and comments seem oriented to the Democritus, Newton, de Broglie, Bohm interpretation of QM (Not wave-particle duality). My simulation required each hod (read droplet) generate a wave in the medium. The hods assembled to make photons. This analogy was seen in the ``cloud'' video http://www.youtub...1Qkb97UM where the assembly drops produced interference patterns in the medium. One problem in the simulation was the diffraction of a single photon. Diffraction didn't happen in the simulation without other photons. The video shown on ``Wormhole'' TV showed the wave being reflected by the diffraction grating. Hence, the single drop produced an interference pattern. Because the wave travels faster than the drop, it is reflected and travels back to the drop that helps influence the drops direction. This is the TIQM model in QM. The math of TIQM works.
jch
1 / 5 (2) Nov 08, 2013
TIQM's perceived difficulty was the reverse wave that was thought to be a time aberration that was difficult to accept. The drop experiment suggests the higher speed and reflection of the wave is all that is required. Revive TIQM.

Could the bouncing drop (but not walking) with lower energy be the analogy of the Bose-Einstein condensate?