Dr. Antony Valentini

Imperial College
Hidden Variables in Physics and Cosmology

The project is to complete a book that re-examines basic physics and cosmology from the viewpoint of "hidden-variables theories." These are theories in which the apparently random outcomes of quantum experiments are actually determined in advance, by hidden parameters that are presently outside our control. A particular theory due to de Broglie and Bohm is used as a model, but by general reasoning one may draw conclusions about all such theories. A key idea is "quantum non-equilibrium," a state in which the values of the hidden entities have an anomalous distribution, so that the statistics predicted by quantum theory are violated. Quantum theory is seen as a special case of a wider, "non-equilibrium" physics. In the wider physics, it is possible to communicate across space faster than the speed of light, to beat Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, to crack quantum codes, and (perhaps) to outpace even quantum computers. Relic non-equilibrium particles from the very early universe, for example, would enable us to perform these currently impossible tasks. We propose tests searching for statistical anomalies in the microwave radiation left over from the big bang, and in the light emitted from the neighbourhood of supermassive black holes.

The project is to complete a book that re-examines basic physics and cosmology from the viewpoint of non-local hidden-variables theories. De Broglie-Bohm theory is used as a model, but many of the conclusions generalise to arbitrary (deterministic) theories. A key idea is "quantum non-equilibrium," which corresponds to non-standard distributions of hidden variables, yielding deviations from the statistical predictions of quantum theory. Quantum theory is seen as a special case, emerging only for "equilibrium" distributions (arising from earlier relaxation). The wider, "non-equilibrium" physics is characterised by controllable nonlocality, violations of the uncertainty principle, and other phenomena outside the scope of quantum physics. Relic non-equilibrium particles from the early universe, for example, would enable us to perform currently impossible tasks. Non-equilibrium is explored in the contexts of the early universe (inflationary and non-inflationary scenarios), black holes, information transmission, and computational complexity, among others. Experimental tests are proposed, including: (a) searches for anomalous statistics in the cosmic microwave background that could be indicative (in an inflationary context) of early quantum non-equilibrium, and (b) searches for deviations from Malus' law for photons emitted by black-hole accretion discs (entangled with partners that have fallen into the hole) and for photons from very distant cosmological sources.

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