“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Irreducible Magic

A few decades ago physicist John Bell wrote an essay that basically showed that quantum nonlocality is irreducible.

What does that mean?

It means you can't reduce phenomena such as entanglement to something else. Of course, this is what physicists want to do, to get rid of the “spooky action at a distance” implied by quantum theory: the fact that something can influence something else faster than light.

To get rid of spookiness. To get rid of causality as magical, precisely. Let's put it in the most outrageous terms possible: telekinesis is a basic fact of our universe.

For instance, for all its Spinozan majesty and the really nice Rupert Sheldrake interpretation of that implicate order, Bohm's theory reduces quantum nonlocality to something much less spooky: there is one enormous thing, and we are manifestations of that thing. Onto-theology.

Bell showed that causality is aesthetic: in other words, influence happens without a series of mechanical connectors between one object and another. At all.

Bell's theorem has just been made stronger by yet another loophole having been ironed out. People are constantly looking for workarounds. None has been found so far.

It looks like we are living in an irreducible universe, and moreover, that irreducibility is weird.

I'm going to keep banging on about this until I'm dead.

No comments: