Ruling Out Multi-Order Interference in Quantum Mechanics

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Science  23 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5990, pp. 418-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190545

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Quantum Mechanics Born to Be Linear

Two pillars of modern physics, quantum mechanics and gravity, have so far resisted attempts to be reconciled into one grand theory. This has prompted suggestions that theories about either or both need to be modified at a fundamental level. Sinha et al. (p. 418; see the Perspective by Franson) looked at the interference pattern resulting from a number of slits, to test the “Born rule” of quantum mechanics. They verified that Born holds true—that the interference pattern is built up by the interference from two paths, and two paths only, with no higher-order paths interfering. The result rules out any nonlinear theories of quantum mechanics; thus, any modification of theory will need to take into account that quantum mechanics is linear.