Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Kalamidas Experiment

Nick calculating the Kalamidas effect (NKE)

Recently Demetrios Kalamidas, a young New York quantum-optics physicist, proposed an imaginative new superluminal signaling scheme--OKE (see also KISS and Demetrios! the Opera). The Kalamidas experiment proposes for Bob to send instant signals to Alice via the medium of a pair of path-entangled photons (A and B).

When Bob knows (from observation of his photon B) which path Alice's A photon took, then Alice cannot observe two-path interference. But if Bob can erase which-path information then, in principle, Alice can get her path-uncertain photon to interfere with itself.

Switching between these two options (knowledge of Alice's photon's path and erasure of that knowledge) Bob can instantly send a signal to Alice no matter how large the distance that separates them. So goes the argument for FTL signaling via quantum entanglement.

In my analysis of the Kalamidas experiment: NKE (caution: 2-MB pdf download), I consider three possible choices that Bob could make to either obtain or erase which-path info concerning Alice's photon A.

I call these three choices: 1. the Fock Choice; 2. the Frost choice and 3. the Kalamidas choice. The Fock choice preserves which-path info and both the Frost choice and the Kalamidas choice erase which-path info—but in two different ways.

The Frost-choice method for quantum-erasure of which-path info is well-known—scramble Bob's two paths in a beam splitter. This choice does indeed lead to interference of Alice's photons. But this interference is INVISIBLE because it is superposed with an exactly complementary anti-interference pattern, the sum of which produces a completely random signal at Alice's detectors. These two patterns (signal and anti-signal) can however be separated by a coincidence trigger from Bob that tells Alice which of Bob's two detectors fired. If detector B1 went off then Alice sees a signal; if detector B2 went off, then Alice sees an anti-signal.

So (making the Frost choice) Bob's erasure of which-path info does indeed produce interference at Alice's detectors but ALICE'S INTERFERENCE IS ENCRYPTED using a random key that Bob can only send by conventional slower-than-light methods. Hence the Frost choice fails as a superluminal signaling device.

What about the Kalamidas choice?

The gist of the Kalamidas experiment is the novel method he has invented for Bob to quantum-erase which-path info. In his original article: OKE = Original Kalamidas Experiment, Kalamidas demonstrates that his method leads to UNENCRYPTED INTERFERENCE at Alice's detectors. Hence it appears that Demetrios Kalamidas has devised a viable mechanism for sending signals faster-than-light. Furthermore all of the components of the Kalamidas device are available in most modern quantum-optics labs. No exotic processes needed—everything in principle is completely understood.

For his FTL machine, Kalamidas employs an unusual method for which-path erasure. Bob "ambiguifies"  the number of photons in each of his two paths by mixing each photon (which is normally in a "Fock state" of definite photon number—either zero or one) with a state of uncertain photon number. In Kalamidas's original paper (OKE), he used for this number-uncertain state a truncated coherent state. In Nick's version of the Kalamidas experiment (NKE), I use a state |U> = x|0> + y|1> (which I call "gray light") as my number-uncertain input.

The beam-splitter math for the NKE experiment is simple but tedious—30 terms that must be carefully squared, added together and matched correctly with the right output detectors. The first time I carried out this calculation, I verified Kalamidas's claim: Bob, by his choice of what to measure could seemingly cause: 1. nothing to happen at Alice's detectors or 2. unencrypted interference to happen at Alice's detectors with a very large amplitude (when gray light parameters were maximized) of 25%.

I was happy to see this result. Not because I believed that I had verified FTL signaling. But because I believed that I had created a paradox (the Kalamidas-Herbert paradox?) which would be resolved in some clever way that might teach us something new about the subtleties of few-photon quantum physics.

I sent my results to Demetrios, who scrutinized them with a critical eye, eventually discovering a simple conceptual error that I had missed over and over again. It's easy to overlook your own mistakes—another good reason for peer review in science.

Correcting my mistake I recalculated and obtained Bob-induced interference at Alice's detectors. But this correctly calculated interference was completely encrypted—only visible (like the Frost choice) if Bob sends a coincidence-triggered decryption signal to Alice at slower-than-light speeds.

My conclusion?

(Quoted from NKE): I wish to congratulate Demetrios Kalamidas for coming up with his imaginative new FTL scheme which gave me much pleasure and excitement to analyze. I would also like to thank him for correcting an error in my work which, up until his intervention, seemed to show confirmation of his FTL signaling claim. After his timely input, the present (presumably correct) calculation demonstrates a complete refutation of any FTL effect. However, the Kalamidas scheme of erasing which-path info by mixing Fock light with gray light is clever and may yet find new technical applications in areas other than superluminal communication technology.

Sketch of the original Kalamidas experiment (OKE)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Demetrios! the Opera

Bruce Damer auditioning for Demetrios! the Opera


Mama, Mama, Mama:
Photonic entanglement
O Mama mia:
Faster than light.

Mama, Mama, Mama:
Gray light's the Secret.
O Mama mia:
Could Einstein be right?

Will we go back in time
When his theory's been tested?
Can we mix Gray light and Fock
Without being arrested?

Has he found the white light
At the end of the trail?
Is Demetrios the knight
Who's discovered the Grail?

Changing our history
Could really be risky:
Is this how the story 
Of humankind ends?

One touch with the past
Might well be our last: 
Adios, homo sapiens

One touch with the past 
Might well be our last: 
Adios, homo sapiens.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Nick's Knot by August O'Connor


My best teachers
have been those
who produced the greatest amperage
with the barest minimum
of voltage.


You're just like every other woman:
pretending to give me
only what you think
I might be looking for.

I'm sorry, honey.
I wasn't paying attention.
Thank you
For all your complex surprises.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

KISS -- a New Superluminal Communication Scheme

Demetrios A. Kalamidas
The phenomenon of quantum entanglement is truly bizarre. Two quantum particles (photons, electrons, atoms, for instance) that have once interacted seem in theory to behave as a single entity. No matter how distant their separation, an action on one seems (again only in the theory) to instantly affect the state of its distant partner -- which suggests that entangled particles can communicate faster than light. However no experiment with entangled particles has ever revealed a human-usable superluminal connection. Furthermore, using the very theory that describes entanglement, one can prove (in agreement with all current experiments) that superluminal signaling is impossible. However any impossibility proof is only as good as the assumptions that go into it. One can easily imagine that an ingenious way of making a quantum measurement might be discovered that evades the assumptions underlying these proofs, hence opening the door to a practical faster-than-light signaling scheme.

Recently Demetrios Kalamidas, who has a degree from CCNY and is currently working at New York nanotech company Raith USA, has proposed an FTL signaling scheme using a novel kind of quantum measurement. His proposal (which I have called KISS, for "Kalamidas's Instant Signaling Scheme) has been accepted for publication in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of the Optical Society of America. A preprint version with essentially the same content as Kalamidas's JOSA article appears here.

The KISS proposal is based on the observation that one member A of an entangled pair AB can show interference effects when its distant partner B is measured in a manner that "destroys which-path information". These interference effects vanish when B is measured in a manner that detects which of two paths B actually took. On the face of it this looks exactly like superluminal signaling were it not for the fact that in order to see this interference, "coincidence information" about results at B must be sent (at light speed or slower) and this information is necessary to separate the superluminal signal from noise.

One way of looking at this situation is that, using entangled particles, superluminal signals can indeed be sent. But these FTL messages are encrypted in a perfectly unbreakable cipher that can only be decoded using a key sent at light speed or slower. So far all schemes to send signals FTL have failed due to the necessity of sending this decryption key by conventional means.

The KISS scheme purports to be different. Kalamidas proposes to destroy "which-path" information in a novel way (that involves mixing the photons that carry this information with a kind of light that possesses an indefinite number of photons). Kalamidas calculates, in his JOSA paper, that this clever new way of introducing ambiguity into the which-path measurement of the B photon has an immediate effect on its A partner -- an effect that is "in the clear" and does not need to be decoded.

Although it is evident that this proposal is a bare naked FTL communication scheme, Kalamidas modestly entitles his paper A Proposal for a Feasible Quantum-optical Experiment to Test the Validity of the No-Signaling Theorem.

Sketch of the KISS proposal (from JOSA article)