Genius or Crazy? Get Married By the Laws of Physics.

Getting married by a priest or at a courthouse can feel underwhelming. Experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats wants to revolutionize the wedding by ditching the boring old officiants and replacing them with quantum physics.

Genius or Crazy presents innovative and unorthodox solutions to complex problems. Current technological feasibility is irrelevant: This is a thought exercise. Is it genius? Is it crazy? You decide. 

Read on below, vote, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Jonathon Keats is an experimental philosopher, which might very well be one of the cooler titles to sit beneath a name on a business card. What does an experimental philosopher do? It's a tricky concept to put into words, but we can start by saying most of Keats' work dances playfully between art and science. In 2004, he famously attempted to genetically engineer God. In 2006, he choreographed a Honey Bee Ballet by strategically planting flowers in a way that would influence bees' movements as they pollinated. He has developed customized versions of the metric system, sold real estate in theoretical other dimensions, and composed a sonata to be played among the stars.

Keats says he begins each of his experiments with a naive question. He'll synthesize a thought experiment around it that allows for a new perspective on the topic. Then — and this is where he diverts from your typical garden-variety philosopher — he tests the experiment in real life. Keats' work is the abstract and theoretical in action. He's been called "a poet of ideas" by The New Yorker and a "multimedia philosopher-prophet" by The Atlantic. 

For today's edition of Genius or Crazy, we point eyes at Keats' latest project: matrimony governed not by the laws of man or God, but by the laws of nature. He's bringing this concept to the Life is Beautiful festival later this year in Las Vegas:

"A Las Vegas hotel is experimenting with a different kind of marriage ceremony: Instead of hiring a justice of the peace, you can now be married by the power of quantum physics.

'Marriage is such an incredibly fraught topic,' says Keats. ... 'So much is invested in it. So much of what people want out of life is put into this legal contract. It seems to me like we really need to investigate other possibilities ... in order to think about whether there are other ways we can connect.'

The new ceremony is based on the concept of quantum entanglement — a somewhat magical-sounding phenomenon where two particles remain connected in their physical state even when they're far apart. Whatever happens to one particle will instantly happen to the other."

Keats discussed this concept with us a few years ago in the video below:

"Quantum entanglement involves two more particles becoming effectively one in the same even if they are separated across the universe from each other. When they are entangled, anything that happens to one instantaneously happens to the other as if it had been done to the second particle. That quality seems an awful lot like what marriage is about, this way in which you can lead separate lives and yet you still are somehow bound and whatever comes the way of one person in a relationship also applies to the other."

This is the basic gist of Keats' idea: Getting married by a priest or at a courthouse can feel underwhelming, so why not rethink weddings by ditching the lame old officiants and replacing them with science? 

The nuptial entanglement process takes place in an "entanglement apparatus" to be set up at Las Vegas' Art Motel from September 25 to 27. The apparatus consists of a nonlinear crystal that will entangle photons when exposed to the full spectrum of solar radiation. Those entangled photons will bounce around the space by ways of thousands of hanging mirrors and prisms, eventually setting on the bodies of the people getting "married." As mentioned above, the entangled particles serve as a natural metaphor for marriage. Overall, Keats' project strives to prove the laws of nature can be just as romantic as the traditional wedding tropes.

Keats has hope that a city like Vegas — which hosts 350 weddings per day — will see a need for continued use of the entanglement apparatus beyond the festival.

One word of warning though: Just because you and your sweetheart stepped into the apparatus doesn't mean you can start filing joint tax returns. Remember that we're dealing with the theoretical here. It's like walking through a living metaphor. There are very few instances of paperwork when walking through a living metaphor and none of them apply here. If you want all the perks of being married, send out for a justice of the peace.

But if you want to test out an experimental philosopher's attempt to establish a natural framework for marriage based on scientific tenets, maybe start thinking about Vegas.

It's time to find out what you think. Is Keats onto something here with the idea that a union between lovers need not be so surface as to rely on legal or religious sanction? Would you ever consider a marriage by science? Or is he merely an artist making an interesting point? Is this all just a silly stunt?

Genius or Crazy?

Photo credit: wandee007 / Getty iStock

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To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'

A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.

A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.

That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.

The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'

That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.

Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.

The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.

They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."

In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.

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