Making Sense of Bell’s Theorem and Quantum Nonlocality

Foundations of Physics 47 (5):640-657 (2017)
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Abstract

Bell’s theorem has fascinated physicists and philosophers since his 1964 paper, which was written in response to the 1935 paper of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen. Bell’s theorem and its many extensions have led to the claim that quantum mechanics and by inference nature herself are nonlocal in the sense that a measurement on a system by an observer at one location has an immediate effect on a distant entangled system. Einstein was repulsed by such “spooky action at a distance” and was led to question whether quantum mechanics could provide a complete description of physical reality. In this paper I argue that quantum mechanics does not require spooky action at a distance of any kind and yet it is entirely reasonable to question the assumption that quantum mechanics can provide a complete description of physical reality. The magic of entangled quantum states has little to do with entanglement and everything to do with superposition, a property of all quantum systems and a foundational tenet of quantum mechanics.

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Stephen Boughn
Princeton University