A Quantum Threat

A great article examining the current evidence which gives rise to debates about wave function, among other insights… Enjoy!


“Our intuition, going back forever, is that to move, say, a rock, one has to touch that rock, or touch a stick that touches the rock, or give an order that travels via vibrations through the air to the ear of a man with a stick that can then push the rock—or some such sequence. This intuition, more generally, is that things can only directly affect other things that are right next to them. If A affects B without being right next to it, then the effect in question must be indirect—the effect in question must be something that gets transmitted by means of a chain of events in which each event brings about the next one directly, in a manner that smoothly spans the distance from A to B. Every time we think we can come up with an exception to this intuition—say, flipping a switch that turns on city street lights (but then we realize that this happens through wires) or listening to a BBC radio broadcast (but then we realize that radio waves propagate through the air)—it turns out that we have not, in fact, thought of an exception. Not, that is, in our everyday experience of the world.

We term this intuition ‘locality.’

Quantum mechanics has upended many an intuition, but none deeper than this one. And this particular upending carries with it a threat, as yet unresolved, to special relativity—a foundation stone of our 21st-century physics.”

Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity – Scientific American


~ by theobservereffect on March 18, 2009.

7 Responses to “A Quantum Threat”

  1. So who was the first observer and what did he do?

  2. The observer effect is a nonlocal phenomenon; therefore the observer is not bound by space and time. This can be understood via the QT context of time, as opposed to the Newtonian, forward-moving context of time.

    In a continuum, there is no “first.”

  3. Does quantum mechanics hold water in the absence of an observer? If there was no one around to observe or measure between the big bang and our emergence then how does quantum mechanics explain the emergence of the universe?

  4. There are many problems with Big Bang theory, not the least of which is that its foundation is based on the faulty Friedmann-Lemaitre paradigm. As physicist David Dilworth has pointed out: “The Big Bang theory is a house of tissue paper that is about to collapse under its own weight.”

    He may be right.

    There are alternatives to Big Bang theory which explain the emergence of the universe and go on to solve many of those aforementioned problems with Big Bang. A growing number of scientists — including astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, astrophysicist George F. R. Ellis, Nobel Laureate Dr. Hannes Alfvén, and physicists James Hartle and Stephen Hawking — don’t subscribe to the Big Bang theory.

    The Hartle-Hawking model suggests that there was no first moment of time. Given the premise that space-time is a continuum, their model makes considerably more sense than the presumption that the universe arose with a sudden start at a precise “moment” in time.

  5. What if space and time existed in discrete chunks, ie was quantized instead of continuous?

  6. Getting back to the blog though I assume that you’re referring to entanglement. The best explanation I’ve heard so far in the academic community is that entanglement does not violate relativity by traveling faster than the speed of light. Entanglement is what Einstein referred to as spooky action at a distance. The best known cases of entanglement are photons and the electron positron pair production. If you have a positron and and an electron seperated by say 100 million light years and you measure the one to be spin up then immediately they other is spin down regardless of distance. The question most often asked is how did the information travel to the other instanteously. The answer is simply it didn’t. Think of it like this. I have two index cards one with a + on it and the other with a -. I put the cards in envelopes, seal them and mix them up then I go to New York and you go to LA. I open mine up to discover that I have a plus on it. I immediately know that yours has a minus. This is what he wave equation tells us. It says that the wave equation lets us know all that can be known about something on the quantum level, but even as a professional I have an uneasy feeling about the wave equation having a monoply on quantum knowledge. Well to tell the truth I have an uneasy feeling in general about stuff that sounds made up to make life easier.

  7. Entanglement is obviously a difficult subject to address without getting into interpretations. You used a classical example of “information” and local realism to explain your interpretation of a quantum principle. Some physicists agree with your interpretation. Others do not. Still others describe entanglement as a means of instantaneous communication which operates “outside” of space time, thereby sidestepping an argument against relativity (Anton Zellinger and Nicolas Gisin among them). Suffice to say this is a point of contention among minds more brilliant than yours and mine.

    But — and it’s a big “but” — beyond interpretations of particle entanglement, there is also new research involving the entanglement of moments of time to consider, demonstrated by the work of Caslav Brukner, Princeton’s PEAR group, and others. Their findings pretty much throw local realism under a bus.

    Re: Discrete Space-Time: Discrete chunks of space-time can work (i.e., quantum gravity), but this idea is not without issues. While both String and LQG allow for the possibility that Lorentz symmetry might not hold, and that space-time may have some discrete chunks at the Planck scale, such discretization has yet to be proven because of the Planck scale’s infinitesimal size.

    Information loss and (current) unprovability of discretization aside, both discrete and continuous features seem to coexist in the observable universe; it’s a matter of the scale of observation. So, in the end, it may not be a matter of either/or, but a matter of multiple scales.

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