It’s, Ars Technica explains, a quantum thing – but looking bigger:
Normally, two particles that can be described using separate mathematical descriptions. But, under certain circumstances, they can become mixed in such away that only a single mathematical description can accurately predict their behavior. The consequence is that these two particles, even when separated by vast amounts of space, are linked—measurements on one particle will reveal information about the other.
Entanglement is very, very delicate. As a particle bounces off of other particles, its properties are modified in an unpredictable way, which shows up as the loss of our ability to predict both the particle’s behavior and that of its partner. So, entanglement is typically found in very clean systems, where particles don’t interact too much. It came as something of a surprise to find a paper describing entanglement of phonons—sound waves in crystals. This implies that the mechanical motion of some 1016 atoms was entangled, which is an impressive feat.
As previously recorded, the Guild takes an interest in phonons – which are patterns of sound that mimic the behavior of photons.
Is it weird that a discovery that *could* maybe (or not really) lead to instantaneous communication over long distances (like between objects light years apart) involves crystals?