Whiz Kids / Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Nissim Ofek found out about mind-reading particles.
Already a century ago, with the development of quantum mechanics, physicists understood that phenomena occurred in the world of particles that are impossible in the world we know. Unlike the objects that are familiar in everyday life, electrons, photons and other subatomic particles are capable, for example, of being in two places at the same time. One of the well-known experiments that proves this is the "double-slit experiment" - the most famous proof of quantum theory. In the experiment, a beam of particles is fired through two narrow slits at a backplate. The pattern that is formed on the other side proves that each particle passes simultaneously through the two slits.
Nissim Ofek, 33, a doctoral student from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, is part of a research team that carried out a slightly different version of the experiment. The researchers fired pairs of identical electrons through two tiny slits, and thereby succeeded in showing that "telepathy" is ostensibly at work between them, a kind of remote communication.
It turned out that the two particles were "reading each other's thoughts": Each electron "knew" the other's trajectory, even though they were remote from each other. When the researchers slightly modified the trajectory of one electron, the other electron acted as though it were aware of the modification.
The experiment, whose results were published a few months ago in the scientific journal Nature, was conducted by a research team led by Prof. Mordehai Heiblum, who heads the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at the Weizmann Institute. Ofek joined the team about three years after the start of the experiment. His job was to activate the tiny facility in which the unique phenomenon is measured, which is built of semiconductor materials and is one-tenth of a millimeter long. "It's like finding a needle in a haystack," Ofek says. "The material has to be pure, and there are a great many things that have to be calibrated for something to come out of it."