In this article, we talked about quantum entanglement and in doing so we touched on “action at a distance”. In this article we are going to use it as an introduction to the Principle of Physical Interactivity.
Let us summarize action at a distance with a quote from the article:
“Suppose you have two particles, particle A and particle B. Suppose these two particles can interact in some way such that if particle A does something, it will cause particle B to change state. Perhaps if particle A emits a smaller particle that strikes B, particle B will spin in a different direction. We will call that change in direction “event C”.
Logic would dictate that if particle A and particle B are to interact to cause event C, then some kind of physical action must occur. Particle A must take some action which then causes event C. A will have to emit some particle or vibrate some physical connection between particle A and particle B or somehow affect some kind of physical interaction. Otherwise, how else could particle A cause particle B to change the direction of its spin? By non-physical means? Using an abstraction? I think not…”
Let us try to put this more simply. Let us say that we have a computer and a wireless keyboard connected to the computer. It is connected by a wireless connection.
We will use these two macroscopic objects as our example. However, it is trivial to extend these examples to subatomic particles. Even though modern physics insists the subatomic world is not rational. Or that it is not subject to the laws of logic.
Now, suppose we press the button “A” on the keyboard. As a result, the letter “A” now appears on the screen. In other words, our keyboard has interacted with the computer.
Now, what has happened here? Is this witchcraft? Should we expect the Spanish Inquisition?
I am going to explain this by laying down a simple principle, which I am going to call the Principle of Physical Interactivity. This says that in physics, all objects that interact with one another do so via physically interacting with one another. That they interact via physical means.
What does this mean? What do I mean by physical? I mean that which has shape or “physical extension”. Those things which are not abstractions are all physical entities (or relationships or attributes/properties of something).
So, when I say that all objects interact via physical means, I mean that this interaction takes place when two physical objects act upon one another. The interaction is not by means of abstractions. It is via the actions of physical entities.
Take the computer and the keyboard. Are they physically interacting? Yes. There are physical objects of some kind traveling from the keyboard to the computer or some other kind of physical activity in the keyboard which causes another physical action to take place in the computer.
That interaction might be waves traveling from the keyboard to the computer. The waves are not merely abstractions, but the movement of some medium. That medium then interacts with the computer.
The point of the Principle of Physical Interactivity is that some kind of physical interaction is required.
Must Objects Touch?
What does it mean for objects to touch? I take it that they must have direct physical contact. Is this necessary?
No. The Principle of Physical Interactivity merely says that there must be physical interaction. It does not require that two objects are in direct physical contact.
Let us return to the example of our computer and wireless keyboard. For the wireless keyboard to send a signal to the computer, must the keyboard and the computer be touching? By which I mean must they be in direct contact via some part of each other?
The Principle of Physical Interactivity does not require this. It merely requires some kind of physical interaction. It does not require that the computer and the keyboard directly touch one another.
Other Forms of Contact?
Must there be some kind of thread directly connecting the keyboard and the computer? The Principle of Physical Interactivity does not require this either. Physical interaction need not take place via objects such as a thread that directly connects the two objects.
How then can they interact? Well, the keyboard might send waves through a medium such as air, which the computer picks up.
Hold on now, I thought waves were abstractions? Additionally, I thought you said that the computer and the keyboard must interact by physical means?
The wave is an abstract description of objects taking some kind of action, of causing something to move through the air in a wave pattern and to hit the computer. Therefore, they do interact by physical means.
This is still a kind of physical interaction between the computer and the keyboard that causes the letter “A” to appear on the screen. To sum up, physical interaction does require some form of contact, via touch or some other form of medium.
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