Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity

This conclusion turns everything upside down. Einstein, Bohr and everyone else had always taken it for granted that any genuine incompatibility between quantum mechanics and the principle of locality would be bad news for quantum mechanics. But Bell had now shown that locality was incompatible not merely with the abstract theoretical apparatus of quantum mechanics but with certain of its empirical predictions as well. Experimenters—in particular work by Alain Aspect of the Institute of Optics in Palaiseau, France, and his co-workers in 1981 and later—have left no doubt that those predictions are indeed correct. The bad news, then, was not for quantum mechanics but for the principle of locality—and thus, presumably, for special relativity, because it at least appears to rely on a presumption of locality.

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