Are you free to make your own decisions as a “conscious” being, or are you predisposed—fated—to think and act in certain ways? What part does chance or randomness play in your life?
Imagine you are a physics student and you’re about to fail a class in quantum mechanics. You’re scouring the depths of the library for something, anything, to help you write a good enough paper to get a passing grade. (It is 1967 so you can’t just Google it.) On a dark, lower shelf a small, dusty book calls to you and you pull it from its undisturbed resting place of several years. The dusty book was John Bell’s thesis on entangled particles and the struggling student was John Clauser. The rest is history.
John Clauser got his PhD in astrophysics and went on to contribute greatly to our understanding of quantum mechanics, in spite of his rough start. John Bell was rescued from obscurity. Bell had an idea for an experiment to test Einstein’s assertion that there was a hidden or unknown cause for the troubling behavior of entangled particles.
Entangled particles, like separated Siamese twins, remain interconnected even at great distances and with no identifiable means of connection or communication. Einstein was certain there must be some undiscovered “hidden” force behind the weirdness, or as Einstein put it, “spooky action at a distance.”
Is there something hidden behind the curtain—some unseen cause that makes sense of entangled particles? John Bell’s rediscovered experiments offered a way to test Einstein’s theory. The testing hasn’t stopped since.