Michael Duff, a professor at the Imperial College in London, was at a conference in Tasmania watching a colleague give a talk on quantum entanglement when he realized the equations being presented looked rather similar to a set of equations he had created to describe string theory inside black holes. When he returned to London, he checked the formulas against each other and discovered that not only were they similar, but the equations were in fact the same.
It’s now thought that Duff’s discovery might allow physicists to predict the behavior of entangled quantum particles with string theory. They’re calling it the “stringy black hole/qubit correspondence.” If true, this could prove to be the method needed to take string theory from a “framework” to an experimentally testable theory, something its critics have chided it over for two decades.
The research is set to be published tomorrow in the journal Physical Review Letters and does not itself confirm string theory (let alone show that it is the theory of everything), but because predictions can be made about entanglement, it does give hope that string theory might now find a home in the lab. Though, there is no explanation as to how the entanglement and string theory might be related.
The discovery that string theory seems to make predictions about quantum entanglement is completely unexpected, but because quantum entanglement can be measured in the lab, it does mean that at last researchers can test predictions based on string theory. There is no obvious connection to explain why a theory that is being developed to describe the fundamental workings of our universe is useful for predicting the behaviour of entangled quantum systems. “This may be telling us something very deep about the world we live in, or it may be no more than a quirky coincidence”, concluded Professor Duff. “Either way, it’s useful.”
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