Bell Nonlocality, Signal Locality and Unpredictability (or What Bohr Could Have Told Einstein at Solvay Had He Known About Bell Experiments)

Foundations of Physics 42 (10):1329-1338 (2012)
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The 1964 theorem of John Bell shows that no model that reproduces the predictions of quantum mechanics can simultaneously satisfy the assumptions of locality and determinism. On the other hand, the assumptions of signal locality plus predictability are also sufficient to derive Bell inequalities. This simple theorem, previously noted but published only relatively recently by Masanes, Acin and Gisin, has fundamental implications not entirely appreciated. Firstly, nothing can be concluded about the ontological assumptions of locality or determinism independently of each other—it is possible to reproduce quantum mechanics with deterministic models that violate locality as well as indeterministic models that satisfy locality. On the other hand, the operational assumption of signal locality is an empirically testable (and well-tested) consequence of relativity. Thus Bell inequality violations imply that we can trust that some events are fundamentally unpredictable, even if we cannot trust that they are indeterministic. This result grounds the quantum-mechanical prohibition of arbitrarily accurate predictions on the assumption of no superluminal signalling, regardless of any postulates of quantum mechanics. It also sheds a new light on an early stage of the historical debate between Einstein and Bohr



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Eric Cavalcanti
Griffith University

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