Happy Mortal

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Is Spooky Action the Negation of Distance?

Give It a Chance... Discover recently posted a sketch of an experiment that would have Einstein rolling in his grave if his body was entangled with the minds of physicists. Here’s the rub. The model of a universe that Special Relativity requires that nothing travel faster than the speed of light. Here’s more rub. Quantumly entangled particles react instantaneously across distance. Is it an effect of ether? Is it the unraveling of the standard model?

Or can we think about these experimental results in a different way? What if the universe is rendered? Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you want to stream a video off youtube. It doesn’t exist yet in your computer. You have to access the file from a server. Ignore for a moment the possibility that the file could be living on several servers, assume it lives in just one storage device. In order for you to watch that video, your computer has to be able to read the source code, decode it, and render it to your screen. There are rules that code follows each time it gets accessed, depending on what machine you have, what browser, what codecs, etc. The file is accessed from a central location.

What if the universe works a little like that? What if it gets rendered when we send a request for information? What if spooky action at a distance isn’t related to distance at all, but instead related to rules of rendering? For instance, if those entangled photons are not really separated by space, but are merely rendered in different locations, there are no broken rules. Spooky action, then, doesn’t refer to instantenous communication, but the collapse of distance. The rules of the standard model aren’t the illusion, it’s distance that’s the illusion. The rules and the distance just get rendered when we send a query.

Or not.


  1. Wow, that’s a simple and clever way to solve the quantum entanglement mystery, except for the minor fact that it completely upsets our entire history of trying to understand the physical universe. Again.

    Got any science (that I can understand) that backs up the negation of distance? Because I just wrapped my head conceptually around the speed of light and the theory of relativity, and I don’t want to have to start over again without some pretty good evidence that it’s true.

  2. No real thought experiments yet. Just trying to think outside the box. Interestingly enough taoist philosophy looks more and more like experimental physics. I’m just following the analogy. Here’s a section from the first poem: naming is the origin of all particular things…mystery and manifestations arise from the same source / this source is called darkness / darkness within darkness the gateway to all understanding.

    So, sorry to disappoint, but no hard science here. But there was no hard science to back my hunch about ether 10 years ago either.

  3. Interesting. Zizek compares the universe to a Word document or a video game in the Parallax View, stating that perhaps reality constructs itself when accessed by the observers gaze. No hard science here either!

  4. What’s reality? And what’s hard science?

  5. They’re both constructs. We simulate the world in our brains, it’s all re-rendered there. Hard science has just done a really good job of systematically building models that match up with reality. And then adjusting them when they don’t. That’s the trouble with discussions of ontology–we never really “touch” being. How do we study (-ology) what we can’t really touch?

    The simple fact is that our brains are similar enough and reality seems consistent enough that we operate as though that reality is an objective fact. But saying for sure? That strays from science to philosophy to mysticism rather quickly.

  6. To say that we “simulate” (or that we “re-render”) the world in our brains is to imply a representational view of the mind; that we re-present an objective reality to ourselves. I think that, your first word, “construct” was a more helpful term. We construct (and are constructed by) the world that we think we inhabit. This is not to say that there is no physical world. On the contrary, it is to recognize that we are a part of the physical world we seek to understand.

    Kant challenged the representational view of the mind by postulating that the mind has certain structures (causality, time) that organize input data. More recently, neuroscientists have shown that the brain constructs images and is constructed by images. These images have certain correspondences to sense data, but do not re-present (as a copy would represent).

    Perhaps this is what you meant anyway! I just had to toss my two cents into the well.

  7. Thanks for posting this great article!