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What Makes Spooky Action Possible?

George Musser, science writer at Big Think, has suggested that instead of multiple universes being the correct explanation for superposition states and for spooky action at a distance in quantum systems, there might be something that is not explained by either the particle physicist reductionist's toolkit, and not explained by interaction with entire other universes that have somehow managed to go undetected for all of this time. The reductionist's particle physics toolkit gives us something like 'turtles all the way down' (my metaphor), according to Musser (more and more particles). This is not really terribly accurate, because it fails to take into account quantum field theory, which tells us that particles emerge from the quantum field as fluctuations: so that is not turtles all the way down already.

However, even deferring to QFT does not help much with the spectre of Einstein's spooky action at a distance. This uncanny outcome involves changes in one particle system affecting a remote particle system instantaneously and predictably. Einstein thought this was both spooky and a problem for quantum theory because it seemed to suggest physical causation with no physical causal pathways. He therefore suggested that there must be 'hidden variables' or structures os some kind as yet undiscovered between the systems that would provide the requisite causal interaction.

As I discussed some time ago, however, John Bell's theorems - that suggest that the hidden variable theory must be wrong - have been vindicated experimentally on several ocassions.

In his article, Musser suggests that:

The real message of the spooky action is that space and time are not fundamental. The particles are rooted in that deeper layer where space and time don’t yet exist. And that’s the way to explain them. So the building blocks of the world may not be tiny things.

I far more explicitly suggested what this could actually be some time ago at The Memetic Planet:

Recent loophole free confirmation of John Bell's test results for confirming spooky action at a distance mean that the question of instantaneous information transmission is a live issue. It has serious practical and philosophical ramifications. For example - Nick Bostrom's simulation arguments may be reinforced by the idea that the substrate of the physical world is configured such that a physical variable at one point is associated with a physical variable at what we would empirically detect as distant, but with no detectable finite causal interaction via causal structures between them, and with apparently instantaneous synchronisation. This is just the kind of thing that one can bring about in a 3D computer game: two objects can be synchronised by the underlying code in a way that would be considered unnatural in the physical world.


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