From Aristotle’s Physics to quantum teleportation, the scientific pursuit of instantaneous connections
A Far-reaching New Book by Paul Halpern
The Ancient Quest to Unravel Cosmic ConnectionsSince at least the time of the ancient Greeks, humanity has sought to understand how the cosmos is connected. Philosophers wondered if Nature had a fastest speed. They knew that light was incredibly swift, but debated whether or not it was truly instantaneous. While Empedocles proposed that light rays from the Sun must take some time to travel through space and reach our eyes, Aristotle later rebutted that, if so, we would seek a streak of light in the intervening region. The debate about the speed of light would be settled only millennia later, when the science of optics, including interferometry became precise enough. Newtonian physics sketched a mechanistic deterministic universe that would allow for actions over a distance. The Sun could tug on Earth from afar to steer its orbit. However, by the 19th century, thanks to Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and other thinkers, the concept of an energy field arose. Forces would be conveyed via fields like waves through the ocean. In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein beautifully showed how gravitation could be expressed as a field theory of spacetime itself. He tried to ban the idea of remote actions entirely–until quantum physics, and its strange concept of entanglement (remote correlations between the properties of paired particles) showed that not everything in nature is conveyed from point to point according to the simple law of cause and effect. By pure fortune (or misfortune), two brilliant minds, Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, united to try to resolve the question of acausal connections in the universe. During a dark time in Pauli’s life, he turned to Jung for therapy, but then ended up engaging in a dialogue about the nature of reality. He helped Jung hone his concept of synchronicity (an acausally connecting principle) Today, thanks to quantum teleportation experiments and other tests of entanglement, the clash between simple, local deterministic causality and remote quantum connections is even more apparent. Theorists struggle for a way to stitch together the patchy quantum realm with the tightly woven fabric of relativity. Explore the realm of Synchronicity, and learn how some of the greatest minds in history grappled with the question of how the cosmos is connected!
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