Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1307.7744 (Huw Price et al.)

Dispelling the Quantum Spooks -- a Clue that Einstein Missed?    [PDF]

Huw Price, Ken Wharton
It is well-known that Bell's Theorem and other No Hidden Variable theorems have a "retrocausal loophole", because they assume that the values of pre-existing hidden variables are independent of future measurement settings. (This is often referred to, misleadingly, as the assumption of "free will".) However, it seems to have gone unnoticed until recently that a violation of this assumption is a straightforward consequence of time-symmetry, given an understanding of the quantization of light that would have seemed natural to Einstein after 1905. The new argument shows precisely why quantization makes a difference, and why time-symmetry alone does not imply retrocausality, in the classical context. It is true that later developments in quantum theory provide a way to avoid retrocausality, without violating time-symmetry; but this escape route relies on the "ontic" conception of the wave function that Einstein rejected. Had this new argument been noticed much sooner, then, it seems likely that retrocausality would have been regarded as the default option for hidden variables theories (a fact that would then have seemed confirmed by Bell's Theorem and the No Hidden Variable theorems). This paper presents these ideas at a level intended to be accessible to general readers.
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