"Quantum Physics Gets 'Spooky,'" by Phil Berardelli

(Which draws attention to
"Testing the speed of 'spooky action at a distance'" by Salart et al.)


... for the Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22, 589, 2008
                   by Professor Richard Conn Henry

Suppose our world were exactly as it actually is today, except that every person in the world, with very few exceptions, believed the Earth to be flat. I don't mean that people had debated it, and had decided that the Earth is flat; I mean that they believed it so deeply that the question could not arise: that anyone who raised any alternative seemed a nut.

In such a world you would no doubt, every so often, see a ScienceNOW Daily News article entitled something like, "Airline Fuel Tables Get Spooky," describing how a new audit of airline records, once again, for the nth time, revealed the "spooky" fact that the using of Zweistein's famous equations in setting airline routes had verified that going a much longer distance resulted in less fuel use; and, even spookier, took less time than going the shorter direct route across (flat) Earth. (Of course the word flat would be absent from the report, for that went without either saying or thinking.)

And suppose you were one of the few people who had awakened to the fact that the Earth is not flat, and that Zweistein's famous equations are merely trivial spherical trigonometry? And then, suppose that you were invited to write an ARTICLES OF INTEREST piece on "Airline Fuel Tables Get Spooky"—what would you do?

That is precisely the position that I find myself in. In that mythical alternative world, the problem was that almost everyone adhered to a fundamental view of the nature of the world that was simply wrong. The problem in our actual world is exactly the same: the overwhelming majority of people, including, I fear, the overwhelming majority of PhD physicists, adhere to a fundamental view of the nature of our world that is simply wrong.

The difficulty is reality. Almost everyone thinks that the world is real. But we know that the world is not real. While science cannot establish that something is true, science can establish that something is not true. In fact, that is the essence of science—that hypotheses are falsifiable. Note not verifiable, falsifiable! And it is a matter of fact that we have verified that the possibility that what you are observing is a real world, can, and must, be rejected. Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans recognized this immediately when quantum mechanics was discovered in 1925. Einstein realized it too, but feeling that it could not be true, he spent the rest of his life trying to break quantum mechanics, with complete lack of success. Anton Zeilinger and his colleagues have recently experimentally demonstrated that reality can be ruled out (Nature 446, 871, 2007).

I have created an illustration of the famous John Wheeler delayed choice experiment: (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/unreal.html). What this experiment shows, is that Schrödinger's cat's history is determined by your observation: "If you find a dead cat, an examination by a veterinary forensic pathologist would determine the cat to have died eight hours ago. Your observation not only creates a current reality, it also creates the history appropriate to that reality" (Rosenblum and Kuttner, "Quantum Enigma," Oxford, 2006). This is where evolution comes from! The most recent experimental verification of the delayed-choice result, is by V. Jacques et al., Science, 315, 966, 2007.

Quantum mechanics is not spooky, and is not even slightly mysterious. No more than spherical trigonometry! Newton's
F = ma follows very simply from Schrödinger's equation, which, in turn, can be derived assuming simple symmetries (Henry, R. C., 1990, Am. J. of Phys., 58, 1087; Shapiro, M., 2008, J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 41: 175303).

What is spooky, of course, inconceivably spooky, is our own existence (that is, our minds' existence) and the fact that we make observations. Physics does not even address these questions. The universe being purely mental begs the question of other minds—I resolve it, now, by belief in God—I dropped my atheism in 2004; not easily, but decisively.

It is also spooky that Galileo was able to educate the world to understand that the Earth goes around the Sun (and what could be spookier than that?), yet physicists today have utterly failed to inform the public to understanding the purely mental nature of the universe, with all that that implies for the meaning of human existence. That is a tragedy, and it should be rectified. I wish I knew how.

                    RICHARD CONN HENRY

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