John Cramer, a physicist at the University of Washington, believes that light particles can act in reverse time, and he has compelling evidence behind his theory. Cramer is a well-respected experimental physicist with an impressive particle physics background.
The reality is that two subatomic particles split from a single particle do seem to somehow instantaneously communicate, regardless of how far apart they get in space and time. The bizarre phenomenon is described as "entanglement" and "non-local communication." Cramer believes he may be able to solve the mystery of how these particles react thousands of miles apart. His theory rests on a sort of time travel called quantum retrocausality.
Unfortunately, his ideas are so radical that none of the usual establishments, like NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts, are willing to support his research. Like other “forward thinking” agencies, the branch of the military-science-industrial complex known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) also couldn’t wrap their minds around a “backward” concept that time can move in reverse. They rejected Cramer's proposal as "too weird”. This from an agency currently using tax dollars to support research aimed at creating killer “Terminator” liquid robots, you know—normal stuff!
"This country puts a lot more money into things that seem to me much crazier than this," said Mitch Rudman, a music industry executive in Las Vegas whose family foundation donated $20,000 to the experiment. "It's outrageous to me that talented scientists have to go looking for a few bucks to do anything slightly outside the box."
Cramer had all but given up his dream of unlocking the secrets of the space/time continuum, when individual supporters like Rudman started sending him checks in a grass roots effort to support innovative scientific research. It seems only the public will support something truly “outside the box” (or at least outside the box in a way that doesn’t involve killer liquid robots).
"He's looking into the fundamental qualities of the universe," said Denny Gmur, a scientist who works for a biotechnology firm in Bothell. "I had $2,000 set aside to buy myself a really nice guitar, but I thought, you know, I'd rather support something that's really mind-boggling and cool."
As a physicist, Cramer has been interested in this research for decades, because it could potentially resolve a fundamental paradox of quantum mechanics, the theory that accounts for the behavior of matter and energy at subatomic levels, called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox.
In the 1930s, Albert Einstein and two other scientists (Rosen and Podolsky) attempted to disprove quantum theory. Einstein didn't like how it seemed to require subatomic particles to interact faster than the speed of light, heaven forbid.
A few unsatisfying efforts have been aimed at solving this puzzle, but there has never been any conclusive research for how subatomic particles communicate through time and space. Cramer proposes an explanation that doesn't violate the speed of light, which was Einstein’s objection to the theory.
"It could involve signaling, or communication, in reverse time," says Cramer.
Physicists John Wheeler and Richard Feynman promoted this idea of "retrocausality" as worth considering years ago, but it still remains untested. Cramer's version would be aimed at using retrocausality to resolve the EPR paradox. He dubs it the "transactional interpretation of quantum
Other notable physicists, such as the famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking, believe that time can only move forward. Cramer responds to that objection quite simply—there is no proven reason why time can only move one way. Basically, until someone proves otherwise, there’s no good reason why time can’t move backwards.
His proposal is a relatively simple experiment requiring lasers, prisms, splitters, and fiber-optic cables to see if he can detect "non-local" signaling between entangled photons. If he is successful, then he is likely to get support from "traditional funding sources", at which point he’ll have the money to acquire the needed equipment to test for photons communicating in reverse time.
His supporters are somewhat of a maverick crowd themselves, like businessman John Crow who donated $3,000 from his own pocket.
"I'm just a crass businessman, but in business we know high risk offers high reward. This isn't that much money to find out if time can go both forward and backward," says Crow.
"Heck, if it works we can go back in time and get our money back!" he laughs.
Retired physicist and rocket scientist, Walter Kistler, who started Redmond-based Kistler Aerospace, donated $5,000 as well. Kistler's struggled for years unsuccessfully promoting the concept of reusable rockets, even going bankrupt once. His company recently won a NASA contract.
"I know how difficult it can be to get people to even consider new or unusual ideas," he said. "Even Einstein had trouble accepting the basic ideas of quantum theory. I've talked to professor Cramer, and what he is trying to do could be very important."
Richard Miller, an artist and photographer who also made a contribution isn’t worried about the possibility of failure.
"I would say the predicted failure of this project is probably a good omen," he says. "Most predictions are wrong."
Rudman, the Las Vegas music mogul, relates another reason for contributing, "The rare hits we get
every once in a while pay for all the stiffs, and then some," Rudman said. "If this stiffs, it stiffs. But, man, you've got to try, don't you? You've got to be willing to take the risk of being wrong to find something new."
The University of Washington has set up a special account to which individuals or groups can contribute funds for John Cramer's experiment.
Tax-deductible contributions to the project may be made by contacting Jennifer Raines, UW Department of Physics, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailing a check made out to the University of Washington with a notation on the check directing deposit to the account for "Non-Local Quantum Communication Experiment" to:
Jennifer Raines, Administrator
Department of Physics
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-1560
Posted by Rebecca Sato