Taming the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser

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Johannes Fankhauser
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In this paper I discuss the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment by giving a straightforward account in standard quantum mechanics. At first glance, the experiment suggests that measurements on one part of an entangled photon pair (the idler) can be employed to control whether the measurement outcome of the other part of the photon pair (the signal) produces interference fringes at a screen after being sent through a double slit. Significantly, the choice whether there is interference or not can be made long after the signal photon encounters the screen. The results of the experiment have been alleged to invoke some sort of 'backwards in time influences'. I argue that in the standard collapse interpretation the issue can be eliminated by taking into account the collapse of the overall entangled state due to the signal photon. Likewise, in the de Broglie-Bohm picture the particle's trajectories can be given a well-defined description at any instant of time during the experiment. Thus, there is no need to resort to any kind of 'backwards in time influence'. As a matter of fact, the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment turns out to resemble a Bell-type measurement, and so there really is no mystery.

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