Fr.: paradoxe EPR
A thought experiment developed in 1935 by A. Einstein (1879-1955), Boris Podolsky (1896-1966), and Nathan Rosen (1909-1995) to demonstrate that there is a fundamental inconsistency in → quantum mechanics. They imagined two physical systems that are allowed to interact initially so that they will subsequently be defined by a single quantum mechanical state. For example, a neutral → pion at rest which decays into a pair of → photons. The pair of photons is described by a single two-particle → wave function. Once separated, the two photons are still described by the same wave function, and a measurement of one → observable of the first system will determine the measurement of the corresponding observable of the second system. For example, if photon 1 is found to have → spin up along the x-axis, then photon 2 must have spin down along the x-axis, since the final total → angular momentum of the two-photon system must be the same as the angular momentum of the initial state. This means that we know the spin of photon 2 even without measuring it. Likewise, the measurement of another observable of the first system will determine the measurement of the corresponding observable of the second system, even though the systems are no longer physically linked in the traditional sense of local coupling (→ quantum entanglement). So, EPR argued that quantum mechanics was not a complete theory, but it could be corrected by postulating the existence of → hidden variables that furthermore would be "local". According to EPR, the specification of these local hidden parameters would predetermine the result of measuring any observable of the physical system. However, in 1964 John S. Bell developed a theorem, → Bell's inequality, to test for the existence of these hidden variables. He showed that if the inequality was satisfied, then no local hidden variable theory can reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics. → Aspect experiment.
A. Einstein, B. Podolsky, N. Rosen: "Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete?" Phys. Rev. 41, 777 (15 May 1935); → paradox.