Science 3 min read

Quantum Darwinism, a new Theory on the Nature of Reality

A new theory called “Quantum Darwinism,” which explains how the classical reality could emerge from the quantum world, passes its first test.

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

You probably heard of Charles Darwin and his natural selection theory. Basically, Darwin’s theory of evolution suggests that nature favors the fittest organism to survive.

With that in mind, let’s delve into the weird world of quantum mechanics that looks to have a say in the shape of the classical reality.

There might be a quantum form of Darwinism, and this could explain our reality.

Per the laws of quantum mechanics, we should have many realities instead of the one we’re stuck with. Size does matter in this case. Microscopic objects like atoms and particles don’t abide by the physical rules of our world.

Yes, quantum principles only govern the small world and don’t apply to big objects, including humans and galaxies. But why?

Quantum Darwinism is a theory from over ten years ago that’s gaining new traction.

Potential Candidate for Theory of Everything: Quantum Darwinism

Wojciech H. Zurek, a Polish theoretical physicist at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, first proposed the extraordinary concept of Quantum Darwinism in a paper published in 2009.

Zurek claims his theory explains why the transition from quantum to classical transition happens. In other words, why the tendency of particles to adopt specific state when we observe the system obeying macroscopic physics suddenly.

Quantum Darwinism tackles the issue of decoherence, the nuisance from the surrounding environment that affects the stability of quantum systems, and a significant obstacle to quantum computers.

Superposition, one of the most bizarre quantum principles, is the ability of microscopic objects to be in multiple states at the same time.

Quantum Darwinism brings up the role of the environment in quantum physics, especially in the mechanism of superposition. Zurek thinks the interaction of quantum systems with the environment is the cause of decoherence that forces a particle to lose its ability to stay in a superposition state.

“The main idea of quantum Darwinism is that we almost never do any direct measurement on anything,” Zurek explains. “[The environment] is like a big advertising billboard, which floats multiple copies of the information about our universe all over the place.”

As to how the environment could act as a quantum communication channel, this theory suggests the existence of “pointer states” in quantum systems. These robust states that can resist decoherence have characteristics like the particle’s velocity and position, exhibiting classical behavior.

As a particle interacts with the environment, quantum decoherence disappears, and only the pointer state remains. The stable and observable, or, the “fittest” state that can imprint its “replica” in the environment to give classical realty its shape, hence the reference to “Darwinism.”

By explaining how classical reality emerges from quantum environments, Quantum Darwinism attempts to reconcile classical physics with quantum mechanics, as an addition to a growing list of theories of everything.

Quantum Darwinism already has some laboratory experiments supporting its ideas.

Three research groups from China, Italy, and Germany separately tested out the theory looking for signs of a quantum system creates its replica on the environment. So far, Quantum Darwinism theory appears to check out.

Read More: Everything you Need to Know About the Theory of Everything

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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