Is the World



Time Reversal









Most texts of this homepage are excerpts from a book with the title Nova Philosophia Naturalis – The Concept of Reality. Here is the download.

Is the World Nonlocal? Printversion

At present, 96 percent of what the universe contains is completely unknown. For 22 percent – the so-called dark matter – there are some candidates in various speculative concepts beyond the standard model of particle physics, however as regards the remaining 74 percent – the so-called dark energy – we are utterly ignorant.

So maybe now, in view of such a vast terra incognita, is the right time to ask anew the most general and most fundamental of all questions:

What is the world made of?

Currently, this question can only be answered with a clear: "We do not know". That alone would already be unsettling, however our situation is indeed much worse, almost hopeless: It even seems as if we had to admit that it is completely impossible for us to know what the world ultimately consists of and what is going on at the bottom of things. Paradigmatic scenarios from quantum mechanics – such as the "double-slit experiment" – demonstrate the futility of any attempt to form an idea of what is actually happening there.

Is this failure final? Are our concepts in fact so completely unsuitable for understanding reality?

The answer is no!

Within this brief introduction, however, it is not possible to describe how the understanding of reality can be restored, but at least I shall make a start by outlining how the seemingly irrefutable proof of quantum mechanical nonlocality – the so-called Bell's Inequality – is overridden by a simple change of perspective.

In the historical development of the interpretation of quantum theory, it was this proof that put an end to all attempts to conceive an idea of what quantum objects actually are and what in fact occurs in quantum mechanical measurement processes. So if one doesn't accept this ontological blindness but still aims to comprehend reality, the first step must be to refute this very proof.

What is "nonlocality"? This can be illustrated using the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox. To understand the paradox, a few facts will suffice:

(1) Generally, the quantum mechanical description of an object determines for some attributes not a definite value but only the probability distribution of possible measurement values.

(2) This applies also to the case of two spatially separated objects which interacted in the past or which originate from the decay of an object.

(3) Between the outcomes of certain measurements on these two objects there will then be a connection that is called "entanglement". E.g. in the case of two identical particles A and B which come from the decay of an object at rest and depart into opposite directions, the two momentums are interconnected in the same way as in classical physics, which means they are identical except for the sign. Another example: If a spin 0 system decays into two photons, then the measured polarization directions of the photons are rectangular to each other.

That's all there is to it! What is paradoxical about it? This is quickly explained, too:

Let us assume as yet no measurement has been performed. Thus only the probability distribution of the measurement values is known. But if now the momentum of particle A is measured, then, because of (3), at the same moment also the momentum of B is known, and the same applies to the case of the photon polarizations.

Now one can argue with Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen in the following way:

B is at an arbitrarily great distance from A. Therefore, the measurement on A cannot have influenced B. Thus we can state: if B has a definite momentum after the measurement on A, then it must have had this momentum also already before the measurement on A – otherwise the measurement on A would have caused a change of the state of B. However, since the quantum mechanical description does not contain this momentum, it must be considered incomplete. (In this case, the momentum would be a so-called hidden parameter.)

That sounds like a reasonable argument! Indeed the alternative would be to assume a nonlocal connection between the two measurements, that is a connection which requires either a faster-than-light transmission or which exists without any mediating process at all and must simply be accepted as such.

But now follows the paradox: Exactly this plausible EPR assumption – that the result of the measurement on B is already determined before the measurement on A, because it corresponds to an objectively existing attribute of a single system – is a necessary and sufficient condition for the derivation of Bell's Inequality, from which then follows that a local description of the world, which conforms to the experimentally verified predictions of quantum theory, is impossible. Hence, in the end, exactly the argument by which EPR meant to proof the incompleteness of quantum theory serves to reduce their own intention to absurdity, to describe the world in an objective and local way.

Thus the entanglement must in fact be understood as nonlocal connection. We seem to be compelled to resign ourselves to the nonlocality of the world. At least this is the current state of affairs.

The proof of nonlocality seems to consist of a series of logical and obvious steps. Therefore it is considered as irrefutable and true in any possible kind of physics.

Can it nonetheless be refuted? Yes. For the refutation, it is not necessary to know the proof – it is sufficient to analyze the following facts:

The derivation of Bell's Inequality is based on statements about how the measured objects would behave at further measurements. The possibility of such statements is thus a necessary condition for the inequality.

(E.g. such a statement could be: The number of photons which go through one polarizer P1 is not smaller than the number of photons which go through P1 and which, additionally, would also go through another, differently orientated polarizer P2.)

As obvious such statements may appear – they are still not permitted, if the objects are entangled, because entangled objects and their respective counterparts must be understood as one single system. So they don't exist on their own, and statements about their behavior at further measurements are thus impossible.

But if, as EPR assumed, the objects are separated from each other and possess their attributes independently of measurement, then it seems completely self-evident that the behavior of these objects at further measurements is known.

However, exactly this ostensible obviousness shall now be challenged: We will investigate whether it is true that the assumption of separateness or locality (the EPR assumption) permits statements about further measurements on the same objects and, in this way, enables the derivation of Bell's Inequality.

To begin with, let us once again formulate the locality-assumption. It reads as follows:

A1: The measurement on one object is independent of whether a measurement on the other object has been carried out or not. It is not influenced by this measurement.

As just explained, for the derivation of Bell's Inequality the following assumption is necessary:

A2: Statements about further measurements on the same objects are permitted.

But I will now show: A2 does not follow from A1.

This means: A1 is necessary, but not sufficient for A2. There must be a condition which is required for deriving the inequality but not for maintaining locality.

The following simple example will suffice to prove this assertion and to show at the same time what condition that is. In spite of its simplicity, it possesses all attributes needed for clearing up the issue.

Imagine a square room in the center of which is a bunch of balls that weigh 1, 2, 3 or 4 grams. Along the left and the right wall empty containers are positioned, 10 on each side. Under each container, there is a scale which emits a short tone, if, during a loading process, a limit of 5 grams or a multiple of 5 grams is reached or exceeded.

In the room is a person who performs moves. A move is defined as follows: To each of the two series of containers, balls with a total weight of 4 grams are distributed, i.e. 4 grams to the left and 4 grams to the right. The choice of the balls and of the containers is random. (With due regard to the 4g rule: e.g. after a 3g ball, only a 1g ball is possible.)

Each move entails a pair of events (event to the left and event to the right); each event has two possible values: tone or no tone. (The value tone can also consist of more than one tone.)

Evidently, here the connection between the objects and the measurement values is not as simple as in the EPR scenario: it is not the object-attributes themselves (the weights of the balls) which are measured, but the effect of their accumulation.

This circumstance is of decisive importance for the question of whether statements about further measurements on the same objects are possible, because in this case the events that follow from a move do not only depend on that move but also on the preceding moves.

E.g. let E1 und E2 be two measurement series with 50 moves each. Let us assume, the 38th move of E1 causes the event pair (tone / no tone). If now one of the moves of E2 – say: the 25th – is replaced by this move, is then anything known about the event pair that will be caused by this move in E2?

The answer is no. Whether the replaced move will cause a tone or not does not only depend on this move but also on how much weight has been in the containers already before this move. However that depends on the specific course of E2 which is most likely different from the course of E1 and completely unknown.

Therefore we can state:

The connection between a move and the following event pair is inseparably bound to the course of the specific experiment. Every event pair does not only depend on the directly preceding move but also on all previous moves. Therefore it is not possible to predict anything about what would be the case if a move was transferred from one experiment into another experiment.

With this, it is proven that the assumption A2 does not follow from the assumption A1. Though it is evident that, in our example, the event on one side is not influenced by the event on the other side, it is still impossible to predict anything about the events that would follow from a move of a certain experiment if it was transferred into another experiment.

In other words:

Statements about further measurements on the same objects are not permitted.

So what is the condition which is necessary for the inequality but not for locality? It is the assumption made by EPR that the measurement value is determined already before the measurement because it corresponds to an objectively existing attribute of the measured object which this object possessed already before the measurement.

But evidently this assumption is not necessary for maintaining locality: Also in our simple example, every measurement value is determined already before the measurement, however not because it corresponds to an attribute of the measured object but because it is generated by the measuring process – by the adding up of the weights of the balls and the acoustic signal caused by it – in a definite manner.

Thus here the measurements are not performed on "objects" in the usual sense, which means: on "things" that persist "as themselves" or "identical with themselves" and which are therefore available for further measurements, but on varying aggregates of always new composition, and, moreover, the measurement result depends in any case also on the preceding course of the experiment.

Generally spoken: The concepts "object" and "measurement process" are fundamentally changed.

With this we have shown that besides quantum mechanical standard interpretation and the interpretation of Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen, there is indeed another, local interpretation – provided it is possible to apply the scheme of the example to a quantum mechanical entanglement scenario.

So if we succeed in transferring this scheme to such a scenario, then the consequence is that the condition which is necessary for the derivation of Bell's inequality is no longer met. The inequality is then suspended, and the path to local descriptions is open.

In fact, the transfer of the scheme to a real physical scenario is easily performed. For example, consider a pair of entangled photons.

In this case, the assumption that enables the transfer of the scheme is almost self-evident: The dualistic model of light does indeed contain besides the concept "particle" also the concept "wave". Thus all that is needed is to assume that not the particle but the accumulation of waves triggers the event – as does the accumulation of the balls in the illustrative example.

Then only the condition must be added that the measured polarization directions of the two photons are perpendicular to each other, and, finally, it is not difficult to determine a function through which the quantum mechanical predictions for all possible cases can be reproduced in a completely local manner. (There is even a downright startling number of suitable functions.) In my paper Local Description of Entangled Photons a variant is presented (see page 10), which I chose because of its simplicity.

Finally, let us compare the usual view of the course of an experiment with entangled objects with the view which the alternative local model is based on:

In the usual view, there are pairs of entangled objects which cause pairs of events. After every event pair, the respective physical process is completely finalized, and thereafter a new process starts that is totally independent of all previous ones. Every experimental series is a sequence of such processes that are independent from each other.

If one adds to that – as EPR did – the condition A1 (the independence of the measurements on both sides), then also A2 is met (i.e. statements about further measurements on the same objects are possible) and Bell's Inequality can be derived; Locality is ruled out.

In the alternative local model, this is completely different. Indeed, also here both sides are independent from one another, and the measurement result is determined already before the measurement – however it depends not only on the current object-pair but also on the whole preceding course of the experiment. Thus the series of measurements in an experiment is no longer a sequence of separate processes that are finished with the according measurement result – rather the whole experiment must be seen as one total process where any previous measuring procedure affects any later one. (In the same way as in the illustrative example with the balls.) No event pair can be separated from such a specific total process.

Then, however, the condition A2 is no longer met: predictions about further measurements on the same objects are not permitted, and Bell's Inequality cannot be derived; Locality is possible.

Of course, also in the local model the entanglement condition (3) must be satisfied – this is the objective of the function through which the quantum mechanical predictions are reproduced – but here it applies only to pairs of events that occur during a certain measurement series. Predictions about further measurements on any object pair of this series are not possible.

In short, the decisive point is the following:

In the local model, the event pairs depend on the course of the experiment. But for the derivation of Bell's inequality, they would have to be independent of all other event pairs. Therefore, in the local model the inequality cannot be derived.

Thus the proof of nonlocality disappears, and the path to local descriptions of entangled systems is open. And using this openness leads in fact to success.

However, with this first important step towards a deeper understanding of reality, the matter is obviously not done: The assumption that not the particle but the accumulation of waves causes the event is in blatant contradiction with the model of the interaction between light and matter, which exists since 1905 and was introduced by Einstein.

Thus, next this contradiction has to be resolved. This is done in the two papers Photoelectric Effect and Compton Effect.

This step entails further ones, and it's actually impossible to end the way before a full conversion of the entire physical interpretation network is carried out. (See Local and objective Interpretation of Quantum Theory – among other things, here is explained what actually happens in the double slit experiment (starting on page 23) –, and Reinterpretation of Special Relativity.)

This in turn has the consequence that the conceptual foundations of physics must be rebuilt. (See Basics of a New Concept of Physics.)

In this attempt at rebuilding physics, the ideas that already at the beginning – in the restoration of locality – have led to success, again prove successful: They permit understandable geometric substantiations of gravitation, electromagnetism, atomic structure and antimatter as well as of several other physical relations. Moreover, the modified view of nature leads to an alternative cosmology, in which the concepts "dark energy" and "dark matter" likewise find simple explanations.

That's not all, though: Starting from the new conceptual basis, finally matter and mind can be integrated into one and the same picture of reality. (More on that in the three treatises Free Will, The Modified Picture of Reality and Qualia.)

At last, a personal word about this website.

I take a position far outside the mainstream – at a distance, where otherwise only fools reside.

In general, it is hardly worthwhile to engage with the ideas of outsiders. It's exhausting, disconcerting, and the chance to meet a correct or at least an interesting thought is low.

So, what reason would be there to read further?

Only this one: In the history of mankind, there is a unique event – that wonderful moment when, for the first time, "a door opens and exposes the glittering central mechanism of the world in its beauty and simplicity" (John Archibald Wheeler).

This is what happens here. The strange fog that currently obscures our view on reality clears, the epistemological confusion dissolves, and the fundamental process that permanently generates reality becomes apparent.

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last update: 06.09.2017

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