Spooky Action at A Distance

Spooky Action at A Distance

The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time--and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Long-listed for the 2016 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

"An important book that provides insight into key new developments in our understanding of the nature of space, time and the universe. It will repay careful study." --John Gribbin, The Wall Street Journal

"An endlessly surprising foray into the current mother of physics' many knotty mysteries, the solving of which may unveil the weirdness of quantum particles, black holes, and the essential unity of nature." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

What is space? It isn't a question that most of us normally ask. Space is the venue of physics; it's where things exist, where they move and take shape. Yet over the past few decades, physicists have discovered a phenomenon that operates outside the confines of space and time: nonlocality-the ability of two particles to act in harmony no matter how far apart they may be. It appears to be almost magical. Einstein grappled with this oddity and couldn't come to terms with it, describing it as "spooky action at a distance." More recently, the mystery has deepened as other forms of nonlocality have been uncovered. This strange occurrence, which has direct connections to black holes, particle collisions, and even the workings of gravity, holds the potential to undermine our most basic understandings of physical reality. If space isn't what we thought it was, then what is it?
In Spooky Action at a Distance , George Musser sets out to answer that question, offering a provocative exploration of nonlocality and a celebration of the scientists who are trying to explain it. Musser guides us on an epic journey into the lives of experimental physicists observing particles acting in tandem, astronomers finding galaxies that look statistically identical, and cosmologists hoping to unravel the paradoxes surrounding the big bang. He traces the often contentious debates over nonlocality through major discoveries and disruptions of the twentieth century and shows how scientists faced with the same undisputed experimental evidence develop wildly different explanations for that evidence. Their conclusions challenge our understanding of not only space and time but also the origins of the universe-and they suggest a new grand unified theory of physics. Delightfully readable, Spooky Action at a Distance is a mind-bending voyage to the frontiers of modern physics that will change the way we think about reality.

Publisher: New York :, Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374298517
Branch Call Number: 530.11 Mus
Characteristics: 286 pages : illustrations


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Apr 23, 2018

The title comes from a phrase that Einstein himself used to describe physical phenomena that seem to break all the rules of the known universe. This is science that reads like Sci-Fi. "Entangled" particles act upon one another regardless of distance, physical matter escapes from a black hole, galaxies exert impossible influences apparently since before the Big Bang... The various manifestations of "nonlocality" in theoretical physics have spawned decades of debate among some of the world's greatest scientific minds, and may lead to the conclusion (a chapter title in Musser's book, in fact) that "Spacetime is doomed." If you enjoy a mind-blowing experience in radical but real science, in which every few pages sends your head spinning at the possibilities, you have found it! (Or maybe it has always been close to you in a parallel universe...)

Dec 13, 2016

A great review of physicists' attempts to discover what space is, focusing on the concept of non-locality, sometimes referenced as quantum entanglement. The author does a historical review of action at a distance in the introduction, spends a chapter or two describing non-locality and the debates in the early part of the 20th century, and devotes the rest of the book to discussing advances over the last several decades.
He makes it clear that I can never hope to understand the deeper issues, but his presentation is quite lucid and with a fair amount of humor. The footnotes and bibliography occupy nearly 1/4 of the book.
I recommend this book to anybody with even a passing interest in the subject.

Oct 14, 2016

Looks at the past, current and future debate on nonlocality in physics. Well written, this is more of a philosophical look at what reality could be then actual provable science. Nonetheless it is enjoyable and thought provoking. Worth reading if you are interested.

Dec 12, 2015

I love this guy! ! ! !
Does a fantastic job of explaining nonlocality [ya know, quantum entaglement, how a particle with either one type of spin or charge - - at the other end of the Universe - - flips to balance a particle which is altered - - at the opposite end of the Universe - - some call it Magic, some call it Weird, some call it Magically Weird!].
Remember, think local, Imagine Nonlocal! [The one point I wish to make - - which detracts nothing from this book - - is that I believe that Bell's Theorem, or his experiment postulated - - proved superentanglement, not fundamental quantum entaglement, something it took me many years to grasp. Yup, it's that . . . May the Force Be With You . . . thing again. . .]
Of course, if super entanglement exists, does causality actually exist? ? ?

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top