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Nov 24 2010

“Spooky action” limited by Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

I remember the good old days, when astrologers could claim “spooky action at a distance” as a plausible mechanism for their particular brand of nonsense.

Those days are over.

Einstein and his co-workers discovered non-locality while searching for a way to undermine the uncertainty principle. “Now the uncertainty principle appears to be biting back.”

Non-locality determines how well two distant parties can coordinate their actions without sending each other information. Physicists believe that even in quantum mechanics, information cannot travel faster than light. Nevertheless, it turns out that quantum mechanics allows two parties to coordinate much better than would be possible under the laws of classical physics. In fact, their actions can be coordinated in a way that almost seems as if they had been able to talk. Einstein famously referred to this phenomenon as “spooky action at a distance.”

However, quantum non-locality could be even spookier than it actually is. It’s possible to have theories which allow distant parties to coordinate their actions much better than nature allows, while still not allowing information to travel faster than light. Nature could be weirder, and yet it isn’t — quantum theory appears to impose an additional limit on the weirdness.

Now that we know that “spooky action” is limited by the speed of light, almost every counterargument to the concept of astrology having a light-based mechanism works for quantum entanglement as well. But again, knocking out proffered mechanisms doesn’t disprove astrology — no no, what disproves astrology is the lack of evidence for it.

Still though. I can’t help but think, on reading this, that the astrologers we fought in that thread can kiss my ass.

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