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Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity

Entanglement, like many quantum effects, violates some of our deepest intuitions about the world. It may also undermine Einstein's special theory of relativity

1 of 10

1981 to present:

Experiments using entangled states of light (right), in particular by Alain Aspect and his co-workers, verify that the world follows the predictions of quantum mechanics even in those situations in which quantum mechanics violates Bell’s inequalities.....[ More ]

1964:

John S. Bell extends the “EPR” reasoning to cases in which spins are measured along nonparallel axes and shows that no local theory can possibly reproduce all of quantum mechanics’s predictions for experimental results.....[ More ]

1935:

Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen argue that because quantum-mechanical calculations involve nonlocal steps, quantum mechanics cannot be the full story. Niels Bohr (far right) insists we must accept quantum mechanics and instead give up old notions of “reality.”....[ More ]

1915:

In Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the curvature of spacetime plays the role that electromagnetic fields play for electromagnetic forces. Gravity is local: if a mass is jiggled, ripples in the curvature travel out at the speed of light.....[ More ]

1905:

Einstein’s special theory of relativity reconciles Maxwell’s equations with the principle that observers moving at a constant relative velocity should see identical laws of physics. But it destroys the possibility of distant events being simultaneous in any absolute sense.....[ More ]

1865:

James Clerk Maxwell’s equations reveal that electromagnetic fields have a rich dynamical life of their own, pushing and pulling each other, and crossing empty space at 298,000 km/s. Electromagnetism is local and light is an electromagnetic wave!....[ More ]

1849:

Hippolyte Fizeau and Jean-Bernard Foucault measure the speed of light to be 186,000 miles per second, or 298,000 kilometers per second, but no one knows what light really is.....[ More ]

1831:

Michael Faraday introduces the idea of magnetic lines of force. Physicists at this time use a notation involving electric and magnetic fields that fill space. The forces on a particle become, at least formally, a local action of the fields on them.....[ More ]

1785:

Charles Coulomb introduces the inverse-square law for electrostatic forces, analogous to Newton’s inverse-square law for gravity. Electric effects seem to involve action at a distance.....[ More ]

Changing Views of "Reality"

Our intuition is that the world is local: we can move a rock only by touching it directly, or by touching a stick that touches it, or by creating some unbroken chain of such direct, local connections.....[ More ]

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