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89
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9answers
11k views

How fast does gravity propagate?

A thought experiment: Imagine the Sun is suddenly removed. We wouldn't notice a difference for 8 minutes, because that's how long light takes to get from the Sun's surface to Earth. However, what ...
66
votes
10answers
8k views

Quantum Entanglement - What's the big deal?

Bearing in mind I am a layman - with no background in physics - please could someone explain what the "big deal" is with quantum entanglement? I used to think I understood it - that 2 particles, say ...
61
votes
8answers
11k views

Why is quantum entanglement considered to be an active link between particles?

From everything I've read about quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement phenomena, it's not obvious to me why quantum entanglement is considered to be an active link. That is, it's stated every ...
53
votes
8answers
12k views

If the speed of light is constant, why can't it escape a black hole?

When speed is the path traveled in a given time and the path is constant, as it is for $c$, why can't light escape a black hole? It may take a long time to happen but shouldn't there be some light ...
35
votes
4answers
17k views

How does faster than light travel violate causality?

Let's say I have two planets that are one hundred thousand lightyears away from each other. I and my immortal friend on the other planet want to communicate, with a strong laser and a tachyon ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

Definitions: 'locality' vs 'causality'

I'm having trouble unambiguously interpreting many answers here due to the fact that the terms locality and causality are sometimes used interchangeably, while other times seem to mean very different ...
22
votes
1answer
1k views

Causality and how it fits in with relativity

I was talking to my teacher the other day about Einstein's spacetime and there's one thing he couldn't explain about the nature of Cause. I may be being stupid or just unable to comprehend, thanks for ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

How does “warp drive” not violate Special Relativity causality constraints?

I'm talking about this nonsense: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/06/11/this-is-the-amazing-design-for-nasas-star-trek-style-space-ship-the-ixs-enterprise/ Now, I'm aware that ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

What do physicists mean by “information”?

On the question why certain velocities (i.e. phase velocity) can be greater than the speed of light, people will say something like: since no matter or "information" is transferred, therefore the ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Does the heat equation violate causality?

I've ran across the idea that, besides simply writing partial differential equations in covariant form, they need to be hyperbolic with all characteristic speeds less than the speed of light. A ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

Why does the speed of light totally prevent instantaneous information exchange?

Based on the classical light-cone approach it's easy to see you can't transmit information faster than $c$ but why does the speed of light (as far as I know) treat information transmission in this way ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

In superluminal phase velocities, what is it that is traveling faster than light?

I understand that information cannot be transmitted at a velocity greater than speed of light. I think of this in terms of the radio broadcast: the station sends out carrier frequencies $\omega_c$ but ...
19
votes
1answer
4k views

Physics behind this neutrino-related joke

In the comment section of a newspaper article reporting on the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics, which was awarded for work on neutrino oscillation, I found the following joke: "I'm sorry, we do not ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

What are some scenarios where FTL information transfer would violate causality?

I've always heard people saying, "Faster than light information transfer can't happen because it would violate causality! Effects can precede their causes!" However, I'm trying to think of a ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

How is quantum mechanics compatible with the speed of light limit?

Consider a free electron in space. Let us suppose we measure its position to be at point A with a high degree of accuracy at time 0. If I recall my QM correctly, as time passes the wave function ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there such a thing as “Action at a distance”?

What ever happened to "action at a distance" in entangled quantum states, i.e. the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky (EPR) paradox? I thought they argued that in principle one could communicate faster than ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

In QFT, why does a vanishing commutator ensure causality?

In relativistic quantum field theories (QFT), $$[\phi(x),\phi^\dagger(y)] = 0 \;\;\mathrm{if}\;\; (x-y)^2<0$$ On the other hand, even for space-like separation $$\phi(x)\phi^\dagger(y)\ne0.$$ ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

The transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics

John Cramer’s transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics (TIQM) is billed as resolving the fuzzy agnosticism of the Copenhagen interpretation while avoiding the alleged ontological excesses of ...
13
votes
1answer
639 views

Backward causality: A question/extension to Ma et al.'s “Experimental delayed-choice entanglement swapping”

In a philosophically rather interesting experiment, Ma et al. show that backward causality exists in quantum physics. An Ars Technnica-article gives a less technical account. From Ars Technica: ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Does a Weak Energy Condition Violation Typically Lead to Causality Violation?

In the answer to this question: ergosphere treadmills Lubos Motl suggested a straightforward argument, based on the special theory of relativity, to argue that light passing through a strong ...
13
votes
0answers
109 views

Can one classify partial differential equations according to the causality properties of their solutions (and if yes, then how)?

Recently, I bumped into this interesting comment by Valter Moretti which made me wonder about the following, more general question (to which I suspect the answer is affirmative): Can we easily tell, ...
12
votes
1answer
189 views

Explaining causal completion axiom in Haag-Kastler axioms?

There are several variants of the Haag-Kastler axioms for algebraic quantum field theory. Usually one associates an algebra $\mathcal{A}(O)$ to each open region $O$ of spacetime. An often-suggested ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Do electrostatic fields really obey “action at a distance”?

In an electromagnetic theory class, my professor introduced the concept of "action at a distance in physics". He said that: If two charges are at some very large distance, and if any one of the ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

How do electrons know which path to take in a circuit?

The current is maximum through those segments of a circuit that offer the least resistance. But how do electrons know beforehand that which path will resist their drift the least?
11
votes
9answers
1k views

Is causality a formalised concept in physics?

I have never seen a “causality operator” in physics. When people invoke the informal concept of causality aren’t they really talking about consistency (perhaps in a temporal context)? For example, if ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Can't quantum teleportation be superluminal some percentage of times?

I apologize if this is a really silly question. In the (textbook) quantum teleportation algorithm, in the step right after Alice has measured her system but before she has sent her classical ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How would wormhole-based FTL violate causality?

We already have an answer why physically traveling faster than light would violate causality (the clock on board our hypothetical FTL spaceship would tick backwards to some outside observers). ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

The Lagrangian in Scalar Field Theory

This is perhaps a naive question, but why do we write down the Lagrangian $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}\eta^{\mu\nu}\partial_{\mu}\phi\partial_{\nu}\phi - \frac{1}{2}m^2\phi^2$$ as the simplest ...
10
votes
4answers
932 views

Event horizons without singularities

Someone answered this question by saying that black hole entropy conditions and no-hair theorems are asymptotic in nature -- the equations give an ideal solution which is approached quickly but never ...
10
votes
9answers
1k views

What criteria distinguishes causality from retrocausality?

The brilliant philosopher David Hume remarked that if two events are always found to be correlated to each other with one event happening prior to the other, we call the earlier event the cause and ...
9
votes
4answers
858 views

Where does movement come from? [closed]

When you put a body in motion, where does that movement come from? Ok, you will say things like "acceleration", but where does that acceleration come from? Then you might say "a force is creating the ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Time travel outside of light cone without causality violation

If one is able to travel into the past but at a spatial distance that puts him outside of his own past light cone would this be considered a causality violating trip? Looking at a Minkoski diagram, it ...
9
votes
4answers
5k views

What spacelike, timelike and lightlike really mean?

Suppose we have two events $(x_1,y_1,z_1,t_1)$ and $(x_2,y_2,z_2,t_2)$, then we can define $$\Delta s^2 = -(c\Delta t)^2 + \Delta x^2 + \Delta y^2 + \Delta z^2$$ which is called the spacetime ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the physical definition of causality?

Maxwell's equations give a physical relationship between the electric and magnetic fields $\vec E$, $\vec B$ at the same time, which some interpret as changes in one causes changes in the other etc. I ...
8
votes
2answers
250 views

Speed of gravity in cosmological codes and ephemeris generation

There are few questions in Phys.SE concerning the speed of gravity, and the answers are traditionally that the speed of gravity equals to the speed of light. But in that case I have three more ...
8
votes
3answers
510 views

Is the commutation of all possible operators sufficient to identify a spacelike interval?

It has been claimed (e.g. here) and apparently already been established, that the interval $x - y$ being (called) "spacelike" implies that $\bigl[\hat O (x),\, \hat O' (y)\bigr]=0$ for any two (not ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Quantum entanglement and spooky action at a distance

When quantum entanglement is explained in "layman's terms", it seems (to me) that the first premise, that we have to accept on faith, is that a particle doesn't have a certain property (the particle ...
8
votes
2answers
426 views

A question about causality and Quantum Field Theory from improper Lorentz transformation

Related post Causality and Quantum Field Theory In Peskin and Schroeder's QFT p28, the authors tried to show causality is preserved in scalar field theory. Consider commutator $$ [ \phi(x), \phi(y) ]...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Why should one expect closed timelike curves to be impossible in quantum gravity?

From the Wikipedia article, it seems that physicists tend to view closed timelike curves as an undesirable attribute of a solution to the Einstein Field Equations. Hawking formulated the Chronology ...
8
votes
2answers
918 views

What's wrong with this QFT thought experiment?

In quantum field theory, the propagator $D(x-y)$ doesn't vanish for space-like separation. In Zee's book, he claims that this means a particle can leak out of the light-cone. Feynman also gives this ...
8
votes
8answers
1k views

Is “Causality” the equivalent of a claim that the future is predictable based on the present and the past?

In classical (Newtonian) mechanics, every observer had the same past and the same future and if you had perfect knowledge about the current state of all particles in the universe, you could (...
8
votes
2answers
844 views

the causality and the anti-particles

How can I quantitatively and qualitatively understand the fact that there is a relevence between the existence of anti-particles and the causality?
8
votes
1answer
224 views

Delocalization in the square root version of Klein-Gordon equation

In this Wikipedia article a relativistic wave equation is derived using the Hamiltonian $$H=\sqrt{\textbf{p}^2 c^2 + m^2 c^4}$$ Substituting this into the Schrödinger equation gives the square root ...
8
votes
2answers
535 views

Is eternal inflation and the multiverse compatible with causal patch complementarity?

The argument for eternal inflation is we have some patch of metastable vacuum with positive cosmological constant, and so it expands exponentially a la de Sitter. Most of the patch decays to something ...
8
votes
1answer
106 views

Hamilton operator in absence of causal order?

I hope, this question isn't too broad or vague. In a recent paper, Ognyan Oreshkov et al. worked out a theory of quantum correlations in absence of any causal order, dropping the assumptions of a ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Extended Rigid Bodies in Special Relativity

I was reading Landau & Lifshitz's Classical Theory of Fields and I noticed that they mention that an extended rigid body isn't "relativistically correct". For example, if you consider a rigid ...
7
votes
5answers
839 views

The relativistic principle of causality

From Wikipedia: "The relativistic principle of causality says that the cause must precede its effect according to all inertial observers" What exactly does this mean? Also, is it an ...
7
votes
2answers
351 views

Why does the minus sign in the Minkowski metric mean that nothing can move backwards in time?

I just watched this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkCWywO93b8#t=27 and there Mr. Cox states that because of the minus sign in the Minkowski metric nothing can move backwards in time. It's ...
7
votes
3answers
316 views

Analyticity and Causality in Relativity

A few weeks ago at a conference a speaker I was listening to made a comment to the effect that a function (let's say scalar) cannot be analytic because otherwise it would violate causality. He didn't ...
7
votes
1answer
575 views

Does cosmic censorship rule out stable toroidal black holes? How?

I'm having a hard time understanding what the arguments against stable toroidal black holes are saying. For many of these, I can't figure out if they're talking about: A non-rotating toroidal event ...