Are Imaginary Numbers Indispensable To Describe Reality?

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Two recent researches, based on a single experiment, have shown how quantum physics requires the presence of imaginary numbers to describe reality.

Imaginary numbers are the result of the square root of a negative number and are often used as a tool to simplify quantum mechanics calculations. However, what we can objectively measure in reality is the use of real numbers, that is the figures we are accustomed to \”treat \” in everyday life. The combined application of imaginary numbers and real numbers produces complex numbers, which, finding a large diffusion in the resolution of quantum equations, were used as a…concerting instrument by their founders, including Erwin Schrödinger. ♪From the early days of quantum theory, complex numbers have been treated more as a mathematical convenience than a fundamental element ♪ ♪ Says the physicist Jingyun Fan of Southern University of Science

In this regard, the two studies, published in Nature and Physical Review, respectively, have shown that these complex numbers are necessary (and not only convenient) to describe the phenomena of quantum mechanics. To verify this mathematical dependence in the physical theory describing the behaviour of matter in the microscopic world, the authors of the first study used a… personalized version of Bell’s classic test. The latter was originally conceived by the physicist Jhon Bell to demonstrate the existence of the fascinating phenomenon of quantum entanglement. They have therefore used light particles in an elemental quantum network, producing exchanges of entanglement that can be described exclusively by a quantum theory with complex numbers. On the same theoretical basis, another team of physicists conducted a similar experiment using a quantum computer; outlining and promoting the same quantum dependence with imaginary numbers.

Although the results obtained are extremely fascinating, the researchers have pointed out that their experiment excludes the iniquity of imaginary numbers in relation to the formal correctness of the accredited laws for quantum mechanics. In addition, the researchers involved have stated that their experimental configuration, consisting of a rudimentary quantum network, could be useful for designing a future quantum Internet infrastructure.

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