5.1 A small history

The notion of quantum entanglement was the subject of many early debates that focused on the meaning of quantum theory. Back in the 1930s, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger (to mention just the usual suspects) were trying hard to understand its conceptual consequences.87 Einstein, the most sceptical of them all, claimed that it was pointing toward the fatal flaw in quantum theory, and referred to it as “spooky action at a distance” (“spukhafte Fernwirkung”). In contrast, Schrödinger was much more prepared to accept quantum theory exactly as it was formulated, along with all its predictions, no matter how weird they might be. In his 1935 paper, which introduced quantum entanglement, he wrote “I would not call it one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought”.

Today we still talk a lot about quantum entanglement, but more often it is viewed as a physical resource which enables us to communicate with perfect security, build very precise atomic clocks, and even teleport small quantum objects! But what exactly is quantum entanglement?

  1. E. Schrödinger, “Discussion of probability relations between separated system”. Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 31 (1935), pp. 555–563.↩︎