Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

By Shimon Malin | Go to book overview

7

"Nature Loves
to Hide"

The Bohr-Einstein debate seemed like a clash between philosophical
beliefs. Quite unexpectedly John Bell proved in 1964 that this is not the
case. Using a modified version of the thought experiment proposed by
Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, he settled the argument in favor of Bohr: He
proved that whether or not quantum mechanics is complete, it violates
Einstein's paradigm of local realism. When the suggested experiment was
performed it showed that the quantum mechanical prediction holds true:
Nature violates local realism.

Nature conceals her secrets because she is sublime, not because she is
a trickster.

—Albert Einstein


1. The EPR Thought Experiment: A Reformulation

Forty years after the formulation of quantum mechanics John Bell discovered that hidden within it is a negation of the paradigm of local realism. In 1964 he designed an experiment, a variant of the EPR set-up, which proved that if quantum mechanics is right, then Einstein's paradigm is wrong. It follows that the choice between Einstein's and Bohr's interpretations of the quantum theory is not a matter of philosophical preference; Einstein's view was shown to be untenable. The story of Bell's amazing discovery and its implications is the subject of the present chapter.

The first phase of the story seems innocuous: a reformulation of the EPR thought experiment. A reformulation does not sound like much, but it can open the door to new and unexpected developments. When the great mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci introduced the decimal system in Europe in 1202, he merely suggested a reformulation of the way numbers are written down. In doing so, however, he provided Western science with an indispensable tool: Try to imagine current scientific research being conducted with Roman numerals!

The reformulation of the EPR experiment we are about to describe was suggested in 1957 by David Bohm and Yakir Aharonov. In the Bohm-Aharonov version the experiment starts out with one particle (the "parent particle"), a nucleus of an atom. They assume that the angular momentum, or spin, of the nucleus is

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Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Nature Loves to Hide *
  • Nature Loves to Hice - Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Part One - The Quandary *
  • I - Mach's Shadow *
  • 2 - Einstein's Dilemma *
  • 3 - The Call of Complementarity *
  • 4 - Waves of Nothingness *
  • 5 - Paul Dirac and the Spin of the Electron *
  • 6 - An Irresistible Force Meets an Immovable Rock *
  • 7 - "Nature Loves to Hide" *
  • Part Two - From a Universe of Objects to a Universe of Experiences *
  • 8 - The Elusive Obvious *
  • 9 - Objectivation *
  • 10 - In and Out of Space and Time *
  • II - "Nature Makes a Choice" *
  • 12 - Nature Alive *
  • 13 - Flashes of Existence *
  • 14 - The Expression of Knowledge *
  • 15 - A Universe of Experience *
  • 16 - The Potential and the Actual *
  • Part Three - Physics and the One *
  • 17 - Levels of Being *
  • 18 - Our Place in the Universe *
  • 19 - Physics and the One *
  • ∼ Epilogue *
  • Appendices *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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