Non-Locality is the stuff of legends. A sorcerer does something somewhere, and something happens somewhere else. Newton himself said the gravitation theory which he had helped to elaborate was “absurd” because of “act at a distance”:
“It is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance thro’ a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it.”—Isaac Newton, Letters to Bentley, 1692/3.
[Yes, one of civilization’s most important physicists and thinkers was a woman; but don’t ask the French, they never heard of her… because she was a woman.]
However Émilie Du Châtelet pointed out that: “…hypotheses eventually become truths for us if their probability increases to such a point that this probability can morally pass for certainty…. In contrast, an hypothesis becomes improbable in proportion to the number of circumstances found for which the hypothesis does not give a reason. And finally, it becomes false when it is found to contradict a well-established observation.” (Du Châtelet’s Lectures on Physics, 1740. Notice the subtlety of the thinking.)
Every Quantum process contradicts Locality, thus, Émilie Du Châtelet would say, Locality is a false hypothesis.
Gravitation got better described (not much) by making gravitation into a field propagating at the speed of light. It is not a trivial modification: it immediately predicts gravitational waves. If two huge star like objects (such as pulsars) rotate around each other, they should generate such waves, they should carry energy away, and those two objects ought to fall towards each other at a predictable rate. Said rate is indeed observed, thus Einstein’s gravitational equation (obtained by talking a lot with others, such as Hilbert, Grasso, etc.) seems correct.
Einstein’s main motivation for his theory of “General Relativity” was that he wanted to explain inertia (why fast rotating planets develop a bulge at the equator, or more generally an acceleration VV/r). That worry, called Mach’s Principle, actually originated 100% with Newton. Newton put water in a pail, twisted and twisted and twisted a rope from which the pail was suspended, and let go: the pail rotated faster and faster, and the water inside crawled up.
Einstein basic wishful logic was that: gravitation = inertia (he called that the “Principle of Equivalence”). So, by making a theory of gravitation, Einstein would make one of inertia, and become a giant among giants (of Du Châtelet’s caliber, say).
Silly. Silly idea, doomed to fail.
Why silly? Once gravitation was made into a field, Einstein and company made it into curvature in a manifold (called “spacetime”; the basic idea was elaborated by genius Riemann, two generations earlier, although implicitly attributed to Einstein by the ignorant ones).
So gravitation is locally determined: once at a point A, gravitation, that is, curvature of spacetime, is determined in a(ny) neighborhood of A (call it N).
The distant stars do not influence N much, if at all. Yet, inertia is clearly determined by the distant galactic clusters. Einstein could not understand this.
But now physicists understand better Einstein was deluded, and (Soviet physicist) Fock’s critique that Einstein’s General Relativity is just a theory of gravitation is universally (albeit silently) accepted.
So let me repeat slowly, as I suspect many readers will not understand this either: inertia, as far as present day physics can see, is a Non-Local effect. Inertia has been Non-Local, ever since Buridan discovered it, seven centuries ago (1320 CE; time flies!)
Einstein completely failed at understanding inertia. Einstein even failed to realize that it was a Non-Local effect, although that is completely obvious. So he came out obsessed by Non-Locality, while being angry at it (so he was open to the Non-Local objection of philosopher-physicist Sir Karl Popper! Hence the EPR paper, more or less lifted from Popper.)
All this to say that I am not shocked by Non-Locality: I just have to go out, and look at the stars, move about, and I see Non-Locality.
Many, if not most physicists are horrified by Non-Locality.
Philosophically, though, being afraid of Non-Locality makes no sense. Once I was broaching Quantum Physics with my dad. I explained what I understood of the problem of Non-Locality to him.
My dad did not know much physics, but he was a scientist. Admitted to the famed ENA (the school of conspirators from which the present leaders of France come from), he declined it, and, instead, following the path of his own father, an amateur-professional geologist, he himself became a (highly successful) non-academic geologist (he discovered Algeria’s fortune).
My Dad said: ”Non-Locality is obvious. To think things would get ever smaller, just the same, made no sense.”
With this philosophical perspective, the following arise: physical space is not made of points (although Quantum Field Theory is, one of its many problems).
When physicists talk about Non-Locality, they feel the urge to get into the “Bell Inequality”. But it’s a convoluted, over-specialized, contrived way to get at Non-Locality (I say this, although I respect the late John Bell as much as I despise Feynman when he tried to steal Bell’s work… Although, in general I do respect and love Feynman, especially in light of his appreciation for my own ideas).
Bell theorem says that some Local Hidden Variable theories imply an Inequality that Quantum Physics violate. So Bell’s is a work which predicts that something false is not true.
My approach to Non-Locality is made for Primary School. It goes first through:
- The Uncertainty Principle:
Suppose you want to know where an object is. Suppose all you have is touch. So you kick it. However, if you kick it, it goes somewhere else. That’s the Uncertainty Principle.
Why touch? Because light is touch. It turns out that light carries energy and momentum. Anybody who lays in the sun will agree about the energy. To demonstrate the momentum of light requires a bit more experimental subtlety.
Could you kick the object gently? No. That’s where the Wave Principle kicks in. Waves ignore objects which are smaller than themselves: they just turn around them, as anybody who has seen a twenty meter tsunami wave enter a Japanese port will testify.
So, to detect a small object, one needs a small wavelength, high frequency wave. However the energy of a Quantum wave (at least a light wave) is proportional to its frequency.
So the more precise the determination of (position of) the object, the higher the frequency of the wave, the greater the energy and momentum conferred to the object, etc.
- Conservation of Momentum:
One has axioms, in physics, as in mathematics. Modern physics axioms include the conservation of energy and momentum. Newton knew of the latter, and confused it with the former. A French woman, Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet discovered (kinetic) energy (”force vive”). As she also discovered Infrared radiation, she obviously could have done more when she died from a fever, at age 43, after giving birth to her fourth child. (Her lover Voltaire, also a physicist quipped that:” Émilie du Châtelet was a great man whose only defect was to be a woman”)
Fundamental hypotheses in contemporary physics are conservation of energy and momentum (something the Multiverse violates, thus, into the bin of silly ideas).
- The Non-Local Interaction:
So say two particles, such as a positron-electron pair, are created together and have total momentum zero (a completely realistic situation: machines do this, for medicine).
Knowing the momentum of (say) the electron E, gives that of the positron P (the vector is exactly opposite to that of the electron). Classical and Quantum mechanics say the same.
So, without having disturbed P (it could be next to Beta Centauri, 4 light years away), we know its momentum. Should one measure it later, one will find it as said. (The latter experiment, retrospective checking of entanglement was actually accomplished by the Austrian Zeillinger and his team!)
However, the basic set-up of Quantum Physics says that the measurement create the state (my formulation, you will not read that in textbooks, although it’s clearly what Bohr wanted to say, but he did not dare, lest his academic reputation gets vilified: he had only a Nobel Prize in physics, after all…).
So the state of P, maybe a few light years away, was created by measuring E.
The basic Quantum set-up was designed for laboratory experiments, not Cosmological Quantum effects. So it did not need to consider all the consequences of this.
Following Du Châtelet, I will say that we are in obvious need of a new hypothesis, the QUANTUM INTERACTION (ex “Collapse of the Wave Packet”). It explains what we observe (instead of trying desperately to say that we cannot possible observe what we observe).
Following Newton, I will say it is absurd to suppose that the effect of E on P is instantaneous. So this Quantum Interaction goes at a speed I call TAU (it’s at least 10^10 the speed of light: 10,000,000,000 times c).
New physics coming to a Quantum Computer near you.
And of course , said new physics will have giant impacts on philosophy (be it only by presenting new models of how things may be done), or Free Will (is it really free if it takes its orders from Andromeda?). This is going to be fun.