I enjoyed watching Professor Jim Al-Khalili's account of the development of quantum physics "The Secrets of Quantum Physics"with the first episode "Einstein's Nightmare" shown last night on BBC 4.
Though I had both read about and listened to the discussion of these ideas many times before, I always welcome a new imaginative way of presentation, which can lead one to seeing the issues involved in a new light.
What was discussed last night culminated with the Einstein-Podolsky Paradox, which though formulated in 1935 could only be satisfactorily tested much later (largely due to the original theoretical contribution of John Bell).
As we know, Einstein was deeply unhappy with the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, where sub-atomic events seemingly were based on chance and probability. He believed that acceptance of non-local causation would imply communication between particles faster than the speed of light, which thereby would violate a key principle of his widely accepted theory of relativity.
However the experiments used to test this paradox according to Al-Khalili (many times since conducted) have convincingly proved that Einstein was wrong!
However as always it is never quite that simple with debate still raging as to to precise significance of the results that have arisen.
The true problem from my perspective is that the very mind-set of contemporary physicists is still based on the common-sense notion of a physical reality "out there" that can be successfully investigated in an objective impersonal manner.
And this is precisely why quantum mechanics seems so paradoxical as it does not conform to the intuitions that fit in with this objective viewpoint.
So the true problem with physics is fundamentally of a deeper level in that the scientific paradigm, which still informs the very way that physicists view reality, is quite inadequate in terms of understanding reality as it truly is!
In other words, only when the scientific perspective we adopt enables us to intuitively resonate with the findings of quantum mechanics (thereby becoming the new accepted common sense), can we then say that we understand such issues in the appropriate manner.
The findings of quantum mechanics lead to the break-down in the very notion of an independent physical reality. Indeed this is equally true with respect to everyday macro reality (though admittedly at this level physical findings approximate well with independent assumptions).
To properly understood reality from the scientific perspective, we need to replace physical with psycho physical reality (where both physical and psychological aspects necessarily interact in dynamic fashion).
At the quantum level, the (psychological) observer is intimately involved with what is (physically) observed so that the physical event resulting has no strict meaning in the absence of this complementary psychological contribution.
However once we accept the necessary two-way interaction as between observer and what is observed, we move outside the realm of mere analytic interpretation.
Such analytic interpretation is always based the independence of polar reference frames (e.g. objective and subjective).
However once we accept a degree of interdependence with respect to both poles, we inevitably move from analytic to holistic type meaning.
So when Einstein protested against faster than light communication, he adopted a strictly analytic perspective (which is especially inadequate at the quantum level).
In fact Einstein himself had already profoundly reflected on this issue in wondering what it would be like to travel on a beam of light! And he acutely realised that time would have no meaning in this context! So within its own frame of reference time does not pass for light.
The notion of the speed of light therefore only has reference with respect to a partial phenomenal reference point (where movement is taken in just one direction).
Therefore for example when we say that it takes about 8 minutes for the light of the sun to reach Earth, we are measuring time from the Sun as origin in relation to a phenomenal object (Earth) with only one direction of movement considered.
However if we now attempt to measure time with respect to the two-way movement of light as between Sun and Earth, it is rendered paradoxical. For what moves forward in time from one vantage point moves - relatively - backward with respect to the other and vice versa.
Thus in terms of two-way simultaneous "movement" time - relatively - has both forward and backward directions (which cancel out).
We could then accurately express this as representing an (absolute) present moment, of which paradoxical notions of time (and indeed space) represent but arbitrary relative expressions.
Therefore strictly speaking, any notion of speed with respect to holistic communication between particles (i.e. entailing two-way interaction) has no meaning.
So we can maintain - as I ardently believe is indeed the case - that holistic communication takes place with respect to quantum particles (and indeed physical reality at every level).
However this strictly occurs outside space and time in the present moment. Therefore it does not contradict Einsteins's prohibition on nothing travelling faster than light, which only applies with respect to relatively independent frames of reference. However the communication dealt with here. clearly applies to frames that are relatively interdependent with each other (as for example in human exchanges).
Thus the truly real massive problem which remains yet to be addressed by physicists (and indeed science and mathematics generally) is that the prevailing paradigm is built on mere analytic type interpretation (directly accessible to consciousness through linear reason).
This remains even true with respect to quantum physics, where findings create considerable paradox with respect to this approach!
However holistic understanding by its very nature entails an utterly distinctive form of appreciation that is directly based on intuition (entailing the unconscious). Thus genuine communication of a synchronistic nature cannot be meaningfully interpreted in a rational analytic manner. However it can indeed be embraced in a directly intuitive manner (that lends itself indirectly to circular type rational explanations of a paradoxical nature).
So what we are witnessing at present - especially at the quantum level - are the severe limitations of mere analytic type understanding.
However the need for of an equally important holistic aspect (of an utterly distinctive nature) has not yet been recognised by the scientific community. In psychological terms this will require recognition of the potential scientific importance of the unconscious aspect of understanding leading to a direct qualitative - rather than quantitative - type emphasis.
Even more, the ultimate need for a comprehensive paradigm that will properly integrate specialised analytic and holistic type understanding (in both quantitative and qualitative terms) is not yet remotely recognised.