Human eye could detect spooky action at a distance


It’s almost a year since Nicolas Gisin and colleagues at the University of Geneva announced that they had calculated that a human eye ought to be able to detect entangled photons. “Entanglement in principle could be seen,” they concluded.

That’s extraordinary because it would mean that the humans involved in such an experiment would become entangled themselves, if only for an instant.

Gisin is a world leader in quantum entanglement and his claims are by no means easy to dismiss.

Now he’s going a step further saying that the human eye could be used in a Bell type experiment to sense spooky-action-at-a-distance. “Quantum experiments with human
eyes as detectors appear possible, based on a realistic model of the eye as a photon detector,” they say.

One problem is that human eyes cannot se single photons–a handful are needed to trigger a nerve impulse to the brain.

That might have scuppered the possibility of  a Bell-type experiment were it not for some interesting work from Francesco De Martini and buddies at the Universityof Rome, pointing out how the quantum properties of a single particle can be transferred to an ensemble of particles.

That allows a single entangled photon, which a human eye cannot see, to be amplified into a number of entangled photons that can be seen. The eye can then be treated like any other detector.

This all looks like fun. The first person to experience entanglement –mantanglement–would surely be destined for some interesting press covereage.

But the work raises an obvious question: why is Gisin pursuing this line? The human eyeball could be put to use in plenty of optics experiments, so why the focus on mantanglement?

Could it be that Gisin thinks there is more to entanglement than meets the eye?

Ref: Quantum experiments with human eyes as detectors based on cloning via stimulated

60 Responses to “Human eye could detect spooky action at a distance”

  1. ZEPHIR says:

    Basically, most of photons incomming into our eyes are entangled already into less or more spherical wave. By this way, a subphoton energy densities can be observed, at least in principle.
    Radio waves are mostly formed by entangled photons, for example. And here are many mechanical analogies of entaglement.

  2. […] 19, 2009’s almost a year since Nicolas Gisin and colleagues at the University of Geneva announced that […]

  3. Mopalia says:

    Mantanglement? Men only? And they wonder why physics can’t attract and keep women in the field.

  4. jon says:

    “And they wonder why physics can’t attract and keep women in the field.”

    If there was a sub-photon level of offense that we needed to detect, we’ve got the detector right there.

  5. Bob. says:

    Mopalia, yes I’m sure it’s the one-off use of “man” to create funny words on science blogs that is keeping women out of science. Try your very best not to give political correctness and gender inclusiveness a bad name.

  6. Keith Breack says:

    Summary! – we would see a new color never seen before. Hence why we want to people to see it at the same time. Maybe so we could name the color. Please name the first one — after this cool ass Italian doing the experiments. FERMI BABY!!!

  7. Danny says:

    Well, seriously, though. What’s wrong with humantanglement? Mantanglement just sounds… kinda gay.

  8. Mice says:

    Humantanglement, mantanglement. Talk about sensitivity! Geez. We have plenty of words in science that genderized many years ago before gender equality existed so just relax and think forward and not backwards.
    What about oculartanglement since it is the eye doing the work and not rest of the person.

  9. Brangelina says:

    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt should volunteer to be the first to experience Brangeltanglement.

  10. Trunt says:

    humantaglement = porthumanteau?

  11. clysher says:

    Okay, so the first thing that jumped into my head is this: transporting matter by quantum entanglement is impossible due to the need of having an entangled mass to accept the information of the twin mass. Now, I am quite certain that if this experiment manages to entangle two human beings, then we have the potential to do some amazing things. I am not claiming we would have the ability to transport humans…yet. However, this is definitely a step past the boundary of not being able to transfer mass.

    Feel free to flame, but I am almost positive that this is what is on Gisin’s mind.

  12. Lee Wenzbauer says:

    Human eyes cannot directly sense a single photon event. A cat’s eyes are approximately 6 times more sensitive. Is it possible for cats to observe a single photon?

  13. Prometheus 6 says:

    Is it possible for cats to observe a single photon?

    Schrodinger’s cat can.

  14. Paul says:

    Bob, pretty sure the comment was tongue in cheek…

  15. Fritz says:

    A very interesting article. Does the author use spell check?

  16. Vapor says:

    Not anymore

  17. Niko B says:

    You don’t need fancy physics experiments for a couple to become entangled.

    Sounds like a cool experiment though. But why stop at entangling two people? Why not just entangle both eyes? heh I’d like to see a movie using quantum entanglement.

    Obviously this article is loaded with sensationalist rhetoric, but I’ll run with it for now.

  18. Jay says:

    womantanglement… the new kamasutra position.

  19. J says:

    Humantanglement, mantanglement. Talk about sensitivity! Geez. We have plenty of words in science that genderized many years ago before gender equality existed so just relax and think forward and not backwards.

    “People unclear on the concept.”
    What a total lack of clue. Gender equality exists? Sit back and relax? What a putz.

  20. j says:

    Any links to the scientists who were amplifying the entangled particles?

  21. human says:

    So if questioning the use of “man” is being over-sensitive, I suggest using “white-man-tanglement”. What?

  22. Dan says:

    The article does not explain how long the entanglement would be. It should be ridiculously short anyway. The other wild extrapolation is to say that when an eye cell would be entangled, the whole body would be. This is also ridiculous and aimed for sensational news without content.

  23. clysher says:

    Well, if only one particle of the person became entangled it wouldn’t even be a cell, just a particle of oxygen or hydrogen most likely. But the ability to physically observe entanglement seems to breaks some rules and I am curious to see how this turns out.

  24. ballz says:

    how about shutthefuckuptanglement

  25. Anthony says:

    Man has never had the singular meaning of just a person with a penis. It means human as well. When they named our species homo(=man) sapiens they didn’t leave out the women.

  26. Hex says:

    @Anthony so does that mean if someone refers to a group of men you imagine a group of both men and women?

    The problem is that it is hard to get the support of those around you when their concept of the field is one that contains or should contain only men.

    This may not sound like a big deal in a single instance scenario but these things can have a profound effect on a woman if she encounters them on a daily basis over an extended period of time.

    see section entitled “Mountains are Molehils” on

  27. nccwarp9 says:

    I will not pretend to understand the quantum entanglement of photons but I have one question. .. Two questions.
    From ZEPHIR (#1 post)comment I presume that not only photons can be entangled. Is this correct?

    And if not only photons, how about electrical neural impulses ? 🙂 One mind, two persons 🙂

  28. Well, we can use a man and a woman in the quantum experiment and entangle them in ways far beyond sex!

  29. web says:

    I dont know about your eyes. But i can detect anything! 🙂

  30. […] eye could detect #entanglement at a distance: Unbelievable […]

  31. BobAliceEve says:

    The above was entertaining (barely) but where can a novice ask a genuine question (or two or three)?

    If Eve and Bob lived a light day apart and were trying to get rich by one’s sending the other stock market information so the other could invest in tomorrow’s futures and they knew that the three major oil companies were on the verge of a new alternative energy production capability could they communicate faster than light as follows:

    Bob sends Eve two entangled what evers and they keep them in order of delivery and unobserved until one of the three companies makes the big announcement. They share a code book (1=Chevron, 2=Shell, 3=Exon). When Bob hears the news he immediately observes the correct number and order of what evers to make the binary number that corresponds to the code book answer. At some point Eve observes that one or more of the what evers has declared a particular property, looks at the order and value of the “binary digits” and invests every cent she has in the corresponding stock?

    What am I missing?

  32. wow says:

    wow. Can someone ring the douchebag bell, we’ve got a winner right here.

  33. Gido A4 Audi says:

    In reference to the below post:

    The last time I spelled Woman it included the same series of letters. “man”

    Don’t feel to left out…

    By Mopalia on Feb 19, 2009 | Reply

    Mantanglement? Men only? And they wonder why physics can’t attract and keep women in the field.

  34. BobAliceEve says:

    OK, I will demonstrate that my intelligence is actually greater than yours then you will not have to condescend.

    You can find the word man in woMAN. I can find the word men in entangleMENt. That has to require at least twice the intelligence.

    Now, can you answer my honest question?

    Thank you…

  35. Peter says:

    when i (a man) look to a woman’s eye isnt that entanglement ?

  36. BobAliceEve says:

    I miscalculated completely. It is the complex story problem that has made answering my question impossible. OK:

    What are the various states of each entangled particle as it is:
    a) formed
    b) sent over the one day journey
    c) stored at the sending site
    d) stored at the receiving site
    e) forced to choose/declare a property state

    Your patience is much appreciated and I am truly interested in your answer(s).

  37. jez kent says:

    Fascinating even if I’m not sure I completely understand

  38. jon says:

    BobAliceEve – your scheme won’t work because Eve just gets a bunch of random bits. Only when Bob and Eve compare notes a day later do they get to observe that the randomness is spookily correlated.

    As for the states of the photons, it is my understanding that hidden variables have been pretty much excluded as a possibility by various experiments. SO there is no special state. It just isn’t known the entaglement happens.

    As for the one day journey, relative to the photons there is no time elapsed. Because they are going the speed of light, the universe in the direction of their travel is contracted down to zero. As if that isn’t strange enough, what is truly bizarre is that it is as if the entanglement is even faster than that.

  39. Lanford says:

    This is why were don’t have teleportation yet – too many fools arguing over semantics.

  40. g says:

    from what i understand even with entanglement, info cannot exceed the speed of light, so eve will not get the info in time.

  41. […] Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 | JFI1, Science Science A human eye ought to be able to detect entangled […]

  42. Qubyte says:

    Simple as. The word (man) is only a gender issue if you choose to make it one. Anyway, roughly half of my colleagues (in a physics group) are women, so there.

  43. Pol says:

    Please, some references

    Thank you

  44. BobAliceEve says:

    Jon, Thank you so much for your reply. I am really trying to understand this. I will have to ask one question at a time to try to grasp this. I understand that my questions (ongoing and original) may be unclear but I will do my best. As you might tell by my name, I am into the encryption side so the entanglement side is new to me.

    Would you please explain the “bunch of random bits” statement. I give this context: One sends to the other one “particle/photon” at at time and many days in advance of the event and the particles are “stored” so that their order is maintained.

    I look forward to your reply.

  45. BobAliceEve says:

    I’ll simply add that I vaguely understand that the demonstration of the entanglement happens nearly instantaneously. I am, of course, counting on that in my use of this as an information transfer method.

    I also understand that “science” says that information can not be transmitted faster than the speed of light. The scenario presented seems to be a contradiction which is why I am trying to understand it.
    Thank you!!

  46. God says:

    human eyesight is limited to the RGB color mode

  47. mantango says:

    I demand that our silly throwaway puns be gender-inclusive! This is VERY IMPORTANT!

  48. jon says:

    BobAliceEve, As is explained here,

    the information is being sent via spin. Two entangled photons will have opposite spins. The problem is that the spin of each photon cannot be measured exactly. The entanglement can only be observed by comparing the statistical results that Bob and Eve get from a large number of photons.

    As the authors of the original paper that this blog refers to point out, the humans that are entangled will not be able to determine that they are observing entangled photons. It is just that some statistics gathered after the experiment of when they observe light and when they don’t will show a value that is inconsistent with what we would expect from classical physics. The physics behind that is extremely interesting, but no information can be transmitted that way, and the participants would observe nothing special.

  49. BobAliceEve says:

    I do see the answer now. I think I have read the wiki article 10 times and finally understand it as follows:

    A) Eve can not tell if it was her observation of her particle set or Bob’s observation that caused the up/down spin to be “declared” on her photon (set) and

    B) the ratio of up and down would be 50/50 given a big enough set but might not be 50/50 in a set of two so

    C) only when Bob and Alice compared the ratios of their small sets would they see that the ratios of up/down are identical.

    Either way I thank you for your assistance, Jon. If I understand correctly then I am thrilled with this advance in my understand. If not then please help me complete (or at least continue to increase) my understanding.

    You are a scholar and a gentleman (oops, there is that man stuff again).

  50. oh4real says:

    Was thinking of entangled people just this weekend. Wonder who else was thinking it?

    Seriously, consider this:

    A) people living in close proximity for long periods would, presumably, be exposed to heaps of entangled photons from our local blast furnace, the sun.

    B) if entangled photons transferred this mysterious entanglement force when absorbed by electrons and now electrons in two different people have some degree of entanglement and said electrons can ‘sense’ each others’ spin and excitation state, etc.

    C) nerve impulses, nerve action and ultimately consciousness – are triggered and routed by the flow of charged atoms (Na,K,Ca,etc.).

    D) when my grandmother died, 400 miles away, I was in an airplane flying to see her and I was literally and mysteriously awoken (600am flight) at 7:43am with a strong feeling of my grams’ presence.

    E) my grams’ time of death was 7:45am.

    I can’t help but wonder if her death triggered massive electrical activity in her brain, perhaps a burst of EM, and those entangled_photon-cum-electrons were re-released and their entangled partners in my brain and body ‘felt’ the change in entangled state.

    My brain would, of course, interpret this un-sourced brain activity to the overwhelming concern of that day, my grams and her impending death.

    Still, how cool would that be???

    Further extrapolation, I claim to have a certain amount of ‘psydar’ and randomly think of friends from 1000s of miles away to discover something momentous happening in their lives at that moment.

    Long-term couples ‘detecting’ gross changes in emotional state of their loved ones, etc. when not exposed to voice or body signals.

    Anyway, just some cool meta-physical thoughts…