Quantum mechanics is weird, there is no doubt about that. Efforts to demystify this theory and reconcile it with the laws of classical physics have led to the development of theories of hidden local variables — the hypothetical parameters of a quantum system that govern the seemingly random outcomes of quantum measurements. As it turns out, these theories require quantum mechanics to be non-contextual: the results of measurements on a quantum system should not depend on the act and specific properties (the context) of the measurement process itself; they should be set prior to it. But on page 494 of this issue, Kirchmair and colleagues report the results of an experiment on a system of trapped ions and demonstrate that quantum mechanics conflicts with non-contextuality regardless of the quantum state of the system. This is a significant advance, coming on the heels of recent tests of quantum contextuality performed with photons and neutrons in very special quantum states. The concept of non-contextuality can be understood in simple terms. Imagine you shake a pair of dice in a cup and then flip the cup bottom-up on a table. The dice are hidden from you, but they have stopped rattling
Nature – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 22, 2009
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