Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The time-travel plot thickens

The other day I read this story about a card-carrying physicist named John Cramer who has come up with an idea that sounds suspiciously like my patent on faster-than-light communications. For the record, I'm pretty sure that it won't work (for reasons described here). But this is still interesting. If Cramer is wrong then I feel vindicated -- a long time ago I submitted the "Quantum mysteries disentangled" paper to the American Journal of Physics. It was rejected on the grounds that, essentialy, "Everyone already knows this." Well, apparently everyone doesn't.

On the other hand, if Cramer is right and I'm wrong then I'm about to win a Nobel Prize in Physics, which would be cool too.


Michael said...

Ron said...

I just sent the following letter to the editor to the Seattle PI and Tom Paulson:

Re: Public donates to UW scientist to fund backward-in-time research (6/12/07)


I have been following your coverage of John Cramer's work on quantum retrocausality for some time now. In light of the fact that people are starting to send in their hard-earned money I think it is incumbent upon you to report that there are fundamental theoretical reasons to believe that his experiment will not work, and that the money is being wasted. The phenomenon that he is investigating is actually quite well understood, and the reasons that his experiment will fail are equally well understood.

Since these claims and counter-claims can be challenging for laymen to sort out let me tell you a little about myself and the support for my position. My name is Ron Garret. I hold degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, including a Ph.D. I used to be a Principal Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab. And, most relevant to the matter at hand, I hold a patent on the experimental setup that Cramer is proposing to use (U.S. Patent 7,126,691 -- see for an explanation of why my name does not appear to be on it.) I filed this patent as a pedagogical experiment to see if I could get a patent on an invention that violates the known laws of physics. The explanation of why it doesn't work can be found in many places, including a paper that I wrote on the topic which can be found at

I also contact John Cramer after your earlier report and got a copy of his experimental proposal. I had it reviewed by a tenured professor of physics at Caltech who agrees with me that it cannot possibly work.

In this case there is actually an experiment that you can do yourself to test Cramer's claims. Cramer himself acknowledges that his proposed experiment will not work for photons entangled in polarization, only for photons entangled in momentum. And yet the laws of quantum mechanics are exactly the same in both cases. You should ask Cramer why he believes that the experiment will work in one case and not the other. He will not be able to tell you. (I know this because I asked him that question myself.) The answer is very simple: the experiment will in fact not work in either case.

I believe it is incumbent upon you to at least mention this if you are going to report a story that tacitly encourages people to contribute to Cramer's work.

Ron Garret (f.k.a. Erann Gat), Ph.D.