How can nothing unreal exist in a not locally real universe?

10 October 2022

In addition to Annie Ernaux being named the Nobel Prize literature laureate , John Clauser, Alain Aspect, and Anton Zeilinger, received the Nobel for their contributions to physics this year. I studied physics in high-school for an ill-fated year, and struggled to make sense of any of it. Way too mathematical. And maybe way too weird.

All the more so, given the Nobel award winning work of Clauser, Aspect, and Zeilinger, effectively “overthrows reality as we know it.” This outcome spans the previous study of a whose-who of household names in the realm of physics, including John Stewart Bell, Boris Podolsky, Nathan Rosen, John von Neumann, and of course, Albert Einstein.

Quantum mechanics’ problem of nonlocal realism would languish in a complacent stupor for another three decades until being decisively shattered by Bell. From the start of his career, Bell was bothered by the quantum orthodoxy and sympathetic toward hidden variable theories. Inspiration struck him in 1952, when he learned of a viable nonlocal hidden-variable interpretation of quantum mechanics devised by fellow physicist David Bohm — something von Neumann had claimed was impossible. Bell mulled the ideas over for years, as a side project to his main job working as a particle physicist at CERN.