Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph

Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph

Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph

Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph
Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph
Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph
Quantum Walks Experiment by Constantin Coutsomitros

Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph
Phosphorescent Resin Disc, Mirror Ball Motor, Laser-Speaker Module, 2019.

Commissioned by the EU Commission, Joint Research Centre for Resonances III Festival.


For Resonances III, I presented an installation of two Quantum Oscillographs. At the JRC, quantum physicist Constantin Coutsomitros passed electronic pulses through his quantum walks experiment. This experiment involved a laser beam pointed at a crystal. The crystal split the beam into two entangled beams, and the original beam was absorbed by a special filter so that it does not interfere with the other two entangled beams. These two beams were connected and could “feel” the same interference. When one beam is altered, the other beam follows suit. 


My Quantum Oscillographs visually represents the two entangled beams. Visually, the oscillographs should look exactly the same, however it is up to the observer to detect any differences. This oscillograph uses photo-acoustic technology, where sonified data moves a laser which is drawn upon a phosphorescent disc. This disc then re-emits the laser light slowly while rotating, allowing the lasers' intricate drawings to be seen. 

Participants

Melanie King // Artist
Constantin Coutsomitros // Scientist
Flavio Bono // Scientist
Eugenio Gutierrez // Scientist

Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph
Reflections for the Resonances III Catalogue, published by the EU Commission.

As an artist, I found the visits to the Joint Research Centre incredibly eye-opening. My overriding feeling after visiting the JRC was hope, as I was able to see how scientists are creating exciting solutions that could have a huge impact on the sustainability of our future, with innovations such as electrical car chargers and solar panels, which were pioneered at the JRC some time ago.

As an artist, I found the visits to the Joint Research Centre incredibly eye-opening. My overriding feeling after visiting the JRC was hope, as I was able to see how scientists are creating exciting solutions that could have a huge impact on the sustainability of our future, with innovations such as electrical car chargers and solar panels, which were pioneered at the JRC some time ago.

During my residency at the JRC, I worked with Constantin 'Costas' Coutsomitros, allowing me to discover how his Quantum Walks Experiment operated. This experiment consists in the following: a laser beam is pointed at a crystal. The crystal splits the beam into two entangled beams, and the original beam is absorbed by a special filter so that it does not interfere with the other two entangled beams. These two beams are connected and can “feel” the same interference. When one beam is altered, the other beam follows suit. Visiting Costas's laboratory was an incredibly interesting experience, as he was experimenting with technologies that emit very minute electrical activities. For example, Costas used a machine that detected my brain waves whilst I was observing his laboratory. He has also invented a plastic-detecting machine, which could one day become very useful in our plastic-contaminated world.

Following my visit to the JRC, I used the data that Costas provided me from the Quantum Walks photon detectors to create an audio file. I used these files to create a Quantum Entanglement Oscillograph. The first oscillograph measures the data connected to the first photon. The second oscillograph represents the other photon, which should also feel the interference of the first data stream. Visually, the oscillographs should look exactly the same, but it is up to the observer to detect any eventual differences.

The entangled photons that Costas is working with have far reaching implications. Theoretically, entangled photons could feel the same interference across the entire universe simultaneously, without the limitations of the speed of light. Thus, the concept of entangled photons has revolutionised our understanding of how the universe works.

Within my practice-based PhD research at the Royal College of Art, I am looking at the area of new-materialism. New Materialism is an area of philosophy that redefines our understanding of matter, based on contemporary science and quantum physics. Karen Barad, a philosopher who was originally trained in the field of particle physics, has become one of the prominent theorists of New Materialism. In her book Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning[1], Barad suggests that the language often used within todays’ philosophy, relies on older understandings of physics that are limited to the atom.

In Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things[2], Jane Bennett compares Primordia, found in Lucretius’ “De Rerum Natura”, towhat we know today as atoms and quarks. Primordia, Atoms, Particles – all of these things are building blocks which combine to create physical matter.

The etymology of the word “atom” derives from the Greek word “atomos” meaning indivisible, which is used to describe the smallest component of ordinary matter. Atoms and particles are stacked together in different formations, which can be used to build anything such as a human, a tree, plastic, photosensitive emulsion or even a star. Looking at the universe on a quantum level, we can deduce that every observable thing is made from the same stuff. This is discussed in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective:


Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.”[3] (

In her book, Barad reveals how quantum physics allows us to understand that we are intrinsically connected to what we observe and work with.

The Quantum Walks experiment designed by Costas demonstrates that photons are entangled and feel the same interference, they are apart yet connected simultaneously. Within Barad's interpretation, the photons are not just joined, but “lack an independent self-contained existence”[4]

It is this lack of independent self-contained existence that allows Barad to consider how beings are interconnected beyond the atom, suggesting that we constrict ourselves within imagined borders and constructed boundaries.

For example, Barad makes a point to highlight how we construct boundaries between the human and non-human, believing that we are not part of the natural world we live in. This disconnect from nature has become a problem, as animals become extinct and Earth becomes warmer. During this time of increasing separation and ecological catastrophe, I believe that it is vitally important to consider the forces that connect us.


[1] Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Duke University Press, 2007.

[2] Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Duke University Press, 2010.

[3] Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection, Anchor Press, 1973, 190.

[4]Karen Barad, oc, preface.