Yes Albert, there is spooky action at a distance

Good lay article here on something there’s been a bit of lately: confirmation that when quantum particles are entangled (eg, two photons emitted simultaneously from the same source and shot in different directions at – obviously – the speed of light) changing one immediately causes a corresponding change in the other, meaning that information moved “faster than the speed of light.”

Einstein famously hated this idea, wanting all cause-effect relationships to be “local” (meaning limited in speed to c). He petulantly referred to it as spooky action at a distance. Bell’s theorem gave it credibility, and now a series of experiments are proving it empirically.

From what I can tell, the conceptual way around believing we’ve just disproven the old saw that nothing travels faster than light is to conceive of the two entangled particles as a single system, so that no information is travelling across empty space. It’s just one massively extended system that, when touched one place, moves in another.  Of course that’s a metaphor and we should probably talk to a physicist for the nitty gritty.

PS, check out that Bell’s theorem paper if you have the time to do a little math and head scratching, you’ll come out of it understanding how they got to this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-30 at 4.52.51 PM

PPS: for the snarky reference this title makes, check out the famous original.


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