April 23, 2012
Quantum entanglement is a state where two particles have correlated properties: when you make a measurement on one, it constrains the outcome of the measurement on the second, even if the two particles are widely separated. It’s also possible to entangle more than two particles, and even to spread out the entanglements over time, so that a system that was only partly entangled at the start is made fully entangled later on.
This sequential process goes under the clunky name of “delayed-choice entanglement swapping.” And, as described in a Nature Physics article by Xiao-song Ma et al., it has a rather counterintuitive consequence. You can take a measurement before the final entanglement takes place, but the measurement’s results depend on whether or not you subsequently perform the entanglement.
I hope this result holds up with further testing, and I suspect it will. There’s still an awful lot we don’t know about reality.