2010 Misel Family Public Lecture


“Spooky Actions at a Distance?"

Professor N. David Mermin

Cornell University

McNamara Alumni Center, Memorial Hall

Wednesday, September 21, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Abstract: Einstein's real complaint about the quantum theory was not that it required God to play dice, but that it failed to "represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance."  I shall use the rhetorical device of a computer-simulated lecture demonstration (a cartoon version of experiments in Vienna) to explain both the appeal of Einstein's criticism and the remarkable fact that the "reality" he insisted upon is nevertheless impossible.

I will assume no background in quantum physics (or any other physics) but late in the lecture, in convincing you of the impossibility of Einstein's vision, I will ask you to engage in a kind of reasoning not unlike a (very easy) Sudoku puzzle.