PEAR lab (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) – REDUX – Retrocausality in physics

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In my previous blog post, I said that Princeton professor Robert Jahn has been unable of finding the right hypothesis about the so-called “-psychic phenomena”- (if any). I mentioned the work of a theoretical physicist, Olivier Costa de Beauregard, who interprets the E.P.R. paradox using the concept of “-retrocausality”- (the reversal of the arrow of time). I said that, speaking of the so-called “-psychic ability”- (if any), one could interpret the so-called “-precognition”- (if any) as a reversal of the psychological arrow of time, where the mind could receive information coming from its own future.

Well, today, via Jason Kottke, we have some news from the scientific world that scratches this concept of “-retrocausality”- (which we should not confuse with “-finality”-, I was told), and which seems to comfort the Costa de Beauregard’-s interpretation:

Quantum theory describes the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic levels, a level of reality where most of the more familiar Newtonian laws of physics (why planets spin, airplanes fly and baseballs curve) no longer apply. The problem with quantum theory, put simply, is that it’-s really weird. Findings at the quantum level don’-t fit well with either Newton’-s or Einstein’-s view of reality at the macro level, and attempts to explain quantum behavior often appear inherently contradictory. “-There’-s a whole zoo of quantum paradoxes out there,”- Cramer said. “-That’-s part of the reason Einstein hated quantum mechanics.”- One of the paradoxes of interest to Cramer is known as “-entanglement.”- It’-s also known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, named for the three scientists who described its apparent absurdity as an argument against quantum theory. Basically, the idea is that interacting, or entangled, subatomic particles such as two photons —- the fundamental units of light —- can affect each other no matter how far apart in time or space. “-If you do a measurement on one, it has an immediate effect on the other even if they are separated by light years across the universe,”- Cramer said. If one of the entangled photon’-s trajectory tilts up, the other one, no matter how distant, will tilt down to compensate. Einstein ridiculed the idea as “-spooky action at a distance.”- Quantum mechanics must be wrong, the father of relativity contended, because that behavior requires some kind of “-signal”- passing between the two particles at a speed faster than light.

This is where going backward in time comes in. If the entanglement happens (and the experimental evidence, at this point, says it does), Cramer contends it implies retrocausality. Instead of cause and effect, the effect comes before the cause. The simplest, least paradoxical explanation for that, he says, is that some kind of signal or communication occurs between the two photons in reverse time. It’-s all incredibly counterintuitive, Cramer acknowledged. But standard theoretical attempts to deal with entanglement have become a bit tortured, he said. As evidence supporting quantum theory has grown, theorists have tried to reconcile the paradox of entanglement by basically explaining away the possibility of the two particles somehow communicating. “-The general conclusion has been that there isn’-t really any signaling between the two locations,”- he said. But Cramer said there is reason to question the common wisdom. Cramer’-s approach to explaining entanglement is based on the proposition that particles at the quantum level can interact using signals that go both forward and backward in time. It has not been the most widely accepted idea. But new findings, especially a recent “-entangled photon”- experiment at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, testing conservation of momentum in photons, has provided Cramer with what he believes is reason for challenging what had been an untestable, standard assumption of quantum mechanics.

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Parting Shot: If “-psychological retrocausality”- (“-precognition”-, actually) could be engineered one day, then we could make a killing on prediction markets. I could have sold short the SENATE.GOP.2006 contract at TradeSports, and made as much money as scientist David Pennock did (or so he claims —-and I saw that some vendor also made this self-interested and undocumented claim).