Science Of The Lost Symbol


Entanglement and Nonlocality

Quantum entanglement is another of the most verified aspects of quantum physics. Essentially, it says that if two quantum entities—let’s say two particles—were created together, have ever been in contact or share certain correlated characteristics, then they will always be in contact with one another—entangled—no matter how far apart they may be. The two particles can be separated by light-years, but if they are entangled, then what happens to one of them instantly affects what happens to the other one. Although there are two separate particles, they act as if they were a single system.

Here’s a playful way to think of what is happening. Imagine you are in a quantum playground, where there is a seesaw. Particle A and B are each on one side of the seesaw. When particle A pushes down, then particle B instantly goes up, and vice versa. The two particles are connected (or more accurately, from the scientific perspective, their behavior and properties are “correlated”). The strangeness begins when you consider that in an entangled quantum system, there in nothing physical connecting the two particles. Take away the seesaw, send particle B spinning off into the cosmos, and then imagine particle A pushing down. Particle B still instantaneously goes up! But there was no message sent to Particle B to tell it what Particle A just did. It’s a law of physics (at least for now!) that no signal can travel faster than the speed of light, so how can particle B react instantaneously to what Particle A did? No-one knows. But it happens in entangled systems. Somehow quantum particles in an entangled system (and there could be millions or billions of particles entangled together) act as a single system, as if every particle knows what the other particles are doing and so can react accordingly.

Entanglement plays a major role in the noetic sciences, as you will soon find out. We’ll give you a hint now as to one way it shows up: There are experiments that show that a change in the brain wave rhythms of one person’s brain instantly affects another person’s brain wave pattern such that their rhythms begin to move in sync, even though there is no contact between the two people and they are each miles apart and in special rooms that are shielded to prevent any kind of known signal, such as an electromagnetic signal, from penetrating that room. Currently, the best explanation for this instantaneous correlation is quantum entanglement.

Entanglement explains one of the most startling findings of quantum physics—that the universe is “non-local.” Nonlocality means just that—at some fundamental level of reality, nothing is truly localized and separate. Everything is connected (or, more accurately, they are correlated) at some deep level, such that cause and effect begin to morph into something very different than what we were led to believe from Newton’s laws. Despite its oddness, nonlocality is considered to be the most fundamental aspect of the universe.

The discovery and verification of entanglement and nonlocality fostered all kinds of philosophical debates within science, especially about holism and an interconnected universe, where nothing is truly separate and where one part of the universe influences every other part. Albert Einstein called entanglement “spooky action at a distance,” and he was deeply troubled by it. He thought that entanglement and nonlocality couldn’t possibly be real, for they seemed to overthrow some of the most cherished tenets of classical, Newtonian physics. He believed that entanglement and nonlocality were evidence that quantum theory suffered from some deep flaw, and that someday that flaw would be corrected. But Einstein was proved wrong: entanglement and nonlocality are core features of the universe and have become two of the cornerstones of quantum theory.
If you have never heard of entanglement and nonlocality, you are not alone. As profound as the discovery of nonlocality was, its verification by experiment barely made a dent in the public’s awareness. Historian of science Robert Nadeau and physicist Menas Kaftos write in their book, The Non-local Universe: The New Physics and Matters of the Mind:

“Although the discovery that physical reality is non-local made the science section of the New York Times, it was not front-page news and received no mention in national news broadcasts. On the few occasions where nonlocality has been discussed in public forums, it is generally described as a piece of esoteric knowledge that has meaning and value only in the community of physicists. The obvious question is, Why has a discovery that many regard as the most momentous in the history of science received such scant attention and stirred so little debate? One possible explanation is that some level of scientific literacy is required to understand what nonlocality has revealed about the character of physical reality. Another is that implications of this discovery have shocked and amazed scientists, and a consensus view of what those implications are has only recently begun to emerge.”

Nonlocality and entanglement show that there is some deeply correlated relationship between the parts and the whole in the universe, so that reductionism can no longer be a truly valid approach to doing science. Reductionism rules in conventional science, especially in biology and medicine. It says that we can take a living or natural system apart, as if it were a machine, study each piece, and by understanding the function of each piece, we can determine how the whole system works. Science has advanced in astonishing ways by taking a reductionist approach, but that approach has its limits. It is especially deficient when it comes to studying complex living systems, such as human beings.

Because of nonlocality, and other secrets of the quantum world that scientists have unveiled, many scientists now believe that everything in the cosmos is connected to everything else in a way that suggests the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And so a new kind of science is emerging, one based on holism. Noetic science is dedicated to teasing out the evidence that holism operates at every level of the universe, including that of human biology and consciousness. Noetic scientists are operating under the assumption—based on the evidence from their experiments—that the universe is a quantum universe and human beings are quantum creatures. Their claims are extremely controversial, because most conventional physicists still maintain that quantum effects can never be detected operating at the level of our everyday, macro world. They say that there is a boundary between the subatomic, quantum world and our everyday world of matter: on one side of the boundary, quantum physics rules; on the other, classical physics rules. Yet, every year there is more and more persuasive evidence that no such definitive boundary exists. The evidence comes not only from the noetic sciences, but from traditional science as well. For example, conventional physicists have discovered that large organic molecules can be entangled. This is a startling development that flies in the face of traditional physics and biology. And so the debate is heating up as more and more evidence is amassed that we are on the cusp of a momentous scientific revolution, one in which the classical and quantum worlds, for so long separate realms, coalesce into one unified whole.

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