Tag Archives: Bell’s theorem

Quantum Mechanics and Nonlocality

A Popular Physics Discussion

Travis Norsen in conversation with Matt Leifer

Wednesday October 21, 5pm PST (California Time)


The Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University presents an online discussion between Dr. Travis Norsen (Smith College) and Dr. Matthew Leifer (co-Director of the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman) on quantum mechanics and nonlocality.  After studying physics and philosophy as an undergraduate at Harvey Mudd College and then getting a PhD in theoretical nuclear astrophysics at the University of Washington, Travis Norsen returned to his two great passions:  teaching physics to undergraduates and working independently on the foundations of quantum mechanics.  He is currently a lecturer in the physics department  at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.   In addition to authoring the first systematic textbook on quantum foundations, Travis has written extensively on the EPR argument and Bell’s Theorem and has also worked on the de Broglie-Bohm pilot-wave theory.  One idiosyncratic theme of his thinking about foundational questions is a stress on the important role played by what Bell called “local beables” in making candidate theories empirically viable.  In addition to physics and philosophy, Travis (like Einstein) enjoys productive physical activities such as chopping wood; he loves gardening and cooking; and he plays, coaches, and has recently written a book about soccer.  The conversation will be broadcast live on YouTube at https://rebrand.ly/IQSNorsen There will be an opportunity for audience Q&A after the event.

Q+ Hangout: Howard Wiseman

Here are the details of the next Q+ hangout.

Date/time: Wed. 26th Nov. 2014 10pm GMT/UTC

Speaker: Howard Wiseman (Griffith University)

Title: After 50 years, Bell’s Theorem Still Reverberates

Fifty years ago this month, Belfast-born physicist John Bell submitted for publication a paper [1] which has been described as “the most profound discovery in science” [2]. However, its significance is still much disputed by physicists and philosophers [3, 4].
I will explain what is so puzzling about the types of correlations Bell introduced, by a specific example based on [5]. (For those well-versed in Bell inequalities this may still be of pedagogical interest.)
But what exactly do these Bell-type correlations violate? Bell’s original answer [1] was the joint assumptions of determinism and locality. His later answer [6] was the single assumption of local causality (which, confusingly, he sometimes also called locality). Different ‘camps’ of physicists – operationalists and realists respectively – prefer the different versions of Bell’s theorem.

Which of Bell’s notions, locality or local causality, expresses the causal structure of Einstein’s theory of relativity? I will argue for the answer: neither [3,4]. Both notions require an additional causal assumption, and the one required for local causality is a stronger one. I will discuss how the different assumptions fit with the ideologies of the two camps, and how they can best be reconciled.

[1]  J. S. Bell, “On the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox”, Physics 1, 195-200 (1964).
[2]  H. P. Stapp, “Are superluminal connections necessary?”, Nuovo Cim. 40B, 191 (1977).
[3]  H. M. Wiseman, “The two Bell’s theorems of John Bell”, J. Phys. A 47, 424001 (2014) (Invited Review for Special Issue, 50 years of Bell’s theorem)
[4]  H. M. Wiseman, “Bell’s theorem still reverberates”, Nature 510, 467-9 (2014).
[5] P. K. Aravind, “Bell’s theorem without inequalities and only two distant observers”,  Found. Phys. Lett. 15, 397 (2002).
[6]  J. S. Bell, “The Theory of Local Beables”, Epistemological Lett. 9, 11-24 (1976).

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Q+ Hangout: Rob Spekkens

Here are the details of the next Q+ hangout.

Date/time: Tuesday 20th November 2pm GMT/UTC

Speaker: Rob Spekkens (Perimeter Institute)

Title: Quantum correlations from the perspective of causal discovery algorithms

Abstract: If correlation does not imply causation, then what does? The beginning of a rigorous answer to this question has been provided by researchers in machine learning, who have developed causal discovery algorithms. These take as their input facts about correlations among a set of observed variables and return as their output a causal structure relating these variables. We show that any attempt to provide a causal explanation of Bell-inequality-violating correlations must contradict a core principle of these algorithms, namely, that an observed statistical independence between variables should not be explained by fine-tuning of the causal parameters. In particular, we demonstrate the need for such fine-tuning for most of the causal mechanisms that have been proposed to underlie Bell correlations, including superluminal causal influences, superdeterminism (that is, a denial of freedom of choice of settings), and retrocausal influences which do not introduce causal cycles. This work suggests a novel perspective on the assumptions underlying Bell’s theorem: the nebulous assumption of “realism” is replaced with the principle that all correlations ought to be explained causally, and Bell’s notion of local causality is replaced with the assumption of no fine-tuning. Finally, we discuss the possibility of avoiding the fine-tuning by replacing conditional probabilities with a noncommutative generalization thereof.

Based on arXiv:1208.4119.

Joint work with Chris Wood.

To watch the talk live, go to http://gplus.to/qplus at the appointed hour.

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Q+ Hangout: Francesco Buscemi

Here are the details for the next Q+ hangout.

Date: 28th August 2012

Time: 2pm British Summer Time

Speaker: Francesco Buscemi (Nagoya University)

Title: All entangled quantum states are nonlocal: equivalence between locality and separability in quantum theory


In this talk I will show how, by slightly modifying the rules of nonlocal games, one can prove that all entangled states violate local realism.

As it is well known, Bell inequalities, which are used to test the violation of local realism, can be equivalently reformulated in terms of nonlocal games (namely, cooperative games with incomplete information) played between one referee and two (or more) players, these latter being separated so to make any form of communication between them impossible during the game. Quantum nonlocality is that property of quantum states that allows players sharing them to win nonlocal games more frequently than the assumption of local realism would imply.

However, as Werner proved in 1989, not all quantum states enable such a violation of local realism. In particular, Werner showed the existence of quantum states that cannot be created locally (the so-called “entangled” states) and, yet, do not allow any violation of local realism in nonlocal games. This fact has been since then considered an unsatisfactory gap in the theory, attracting a considerable amount of attentions in the literature.

In this talk I will present a simple proof of the fact that all entangled states indeed violate local realism. This will be done by considering a new larger class of nonlocal games, which I call “semiquantum,” differing from the old ones merely in that the referee can now communicate with the players through quantum channels, rather than being restricted to use classical ones, as it was tacitly assumed before. I will then prove that one quantum state always provides better payoffs than another quantum state, in semiquantum nonlocal games, if and only if the latter can be obtained from the former, by local operations and shared randomness (LOSR). The main claim will then follow as a corollary.

The new approach not only provides a clear theoretical picture of the relation between locality and separability, but also suggests, thanks to its simplicity, new experimental tests able in principle to verify the violation of local realism in situations where previous experiments would fail.

Based on http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.6095

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