spooky action at a distance

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Calque of German spukhafte Fernwirkung. Coined by Albert Einstein as spukhafte Fernwirkungen (“spooky actions at a distance”) in a letter to Max Born on 3 March 1947 to describe the strange effects of quantum mechanics, where two particles may interact instantaneously over a distance.


spooky action at a distance (uncountable)

  1. (physics) Synonym of quantum entanglement
    • 2008 August 14, Salart, Daniel; Baas, Augustin; Branciard, Cyril; Gisin, Nicolas; Zbinden, Hugo, “Testing the speed of ‘spooky action at a distance’”, in Nature, volume 454, number 7206, DOI:10.1038/nature07121, page 863:
      The correlations are thus due either to entanglement, as predicted by quantum physics, or to some hypothetical spooky action at a distance whose speed we wish to bound from below.
    • 2011, Tim Maudlin, Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity: Metaphysical Intimations of Modern Physics, John Wiley & Sons (→ISBN), page 240:
      Of course, such a correlation is in principle possible to explain without any spooky action-at-a-distance: simply assume that the “particle” really is a particle, with a definite location at all times, and about half the time the particle goes to the right and half the time it goes to the left.