Quantum oblivion: A master key for many quantum riddles

Avshalom C. Elitzur, Eliahu Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A simple quantum interaction is analyzed, where the paths of two superposed particles asymmetrically cross, while a detector set to detect an interaction between them remains silent. Despite this negative result, the particles' states leave no doubt that a peculiar interaction has occurred: One particle's momentum is changed while the other's remains unaffected, in apparent violation of momentum conservation. Revisiting the foundations of the standard quantum measurement process offers the resolution. Prior to the macroscopic recording of no interaction, a brief critical interval (CI) prevails, during which the particles and the detector's pointer form a subtle entanglement which immediately dissolves. It is this self-cancellation, henceforth "quantum oblivion (QO)," that lies at the basis of some well-known intriguing quantum effects. Such is interaction-free measurement (IFM)1 and its more paradoxical variants like Hardy's Paradox2 and the quantum liar paradox.3 Even the Aharonov-Bohm (AB) effect4 and weak measurement (WM)5 turn out to belong to this group. We next study interventions within the CI that produce some other peculiar effects. Finally, we discuss some of the conceptual issues involved. Under a greater time-resolution of the CI, some non-local phenomena turn out to be local. Momentum is conserved due to the quantum uncertainties inflicted by the particle-pointer interaction, which sets the experiment's final boundary condition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1560024
JournalInternational Journal of Quantum Information
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 25 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • AB effect
  • IFM
  • Quantum oblivion
  • non-locality
  • quantum Zeno effect
  • quantum measurement

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantum oblivion: A master key for many quantum riddles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this