Spooky Action at a Distance: What's Wrong with the Speed of Light?

By Mario Wingert (Mai 2019)

The constant c is fundamental to physics, and we all know that today it is a law of nature by decree, made by humans (adopted 1983). Questioning the special theory of relativity - more precisely, the usual interpretation of c, which still stems from Maxwell - nevertheless seems very risky for professional physicists. But quantum physical experiments raise the question of what is wrong with the definition of the speed of light, and whether there is another way to interpret the constant c. The first to realize that there might well be a conflict between Maxwell's expanding sphere of light, special relativity and local quantum interactions was Einstein in 1909, 1927 and 1935. Einstein called this "spooky action at a distance".

John Bell made it clear in 1964 that there is indeed a conflict that applies not only to conservation of momentum (Einstein's example in the "debate" with Bohr in 1935), but also to magnetic spin measurements on both sides of the system (in my interpretation these are two opposite branches or cells of a holistically branched or divided, physically coherent field). As Bell was able to show, measurements of the spin on one side directly produce the exact opposite spin on the other side, independent of time and distance. This is called instantaneous action at a distance and thus resembles Newton's gravity, but contradicts the definition of c, i.e. the constant velocity of propagation of light or field exitations, and thus the special and general theory of relativity. Physicists therefore cautiously speak only of mathematical "correlations" - which does not change the fact that there is an experimentally proven physical connection between the two sides, which the theory only does not yet understand (spin, entanglement, teleportation).

Such an interaction cannot be explained physically as long as Einstein's assumption is accepted that the two parts of the system are local units (bodies, particles, objects or wave fronts) which are spatially separated from each other. In special relativity, spatially separated means that an object lies outside the light cone of the other, that there is a distance between them that cannot be immediately overcome by light, which always propagates at constant speed. In other words, according to Einstein, there can be no physical effects that can propagate faster than light or act instantaneously, i.e. independently of time.

Now remember that Minkowski's light cone is just another word for Maxwell's sphere of light, which expands at speed c. What does this expansion rate refer to? The velocity c refers to the distance travelled by a light beam per time unit. Related to the expanding light sphere - the spherical wavefront - such a definition thus refers to the radius of the sphere. Imagine, then, that all rays or wave normals move away from their origin at velocity c. After one year the light sphere has a diameter of 2 c, which according to Einstein excludes that the two opposite wave fronts can still interact with each other, or form a physical unit! This leads to a physical problem for the field concept: If we pick out two light rays running in opposite directions, they can no longer have a physical connection, because they would be spatially separated (in the sense of Einstein). This applies immediately from emission, regardless of the chosen time scale or the distance between the beam peaks or wave fronts. This shows that a possible physical connection can neither be depicted in the spherical wave image nor in the ray image. The opposite wave fronts of the sphere or two opposite beam peaks always have a distance of 2 c, so they can no longer interact with each other or influence each other. Consequently, the idea that the spherical wave front forms a coherent field continuum or a plane wave is not really compatible with this definition of the speed of light.

If, however, a system with opposite spin is created by non-mechanical, i.e. holistic, field division or branching processes (e.g. by partial reflection, in which a light ray is split on a glass pane or half-silvered mirror in two, or by parametric 'down-conversation' in a calcit crystal, which is practically already proven by the correlation and entanglement of the two newly created photons, light beams or wave fronts), then we are dealing with an inner structure of the light sphere or with a branched light ray. These division processes have so far only been misinterpreted as mechanical fragmentation and separation, especially in the atomistic particle image. But even in the wave model, the physical relationship between the two components - called spin and entanglement - becomes not clear. And since the special theory of relativity has its roots in Maxwell's theory and quantum physics does not yet play a role in it, it also misses the real problem: Instead of a separation in the sense of mechanics, we are dealing with an inner structure of the electromagnetic field - and nothing is separated or outside the light cone. We are then dealing with a holistic field system structured in itself, whose physical properties are independent of scale:

The entire field system is in itself oppositely structured (branched), which has so far only been insufficiently described by the words "spin" and "opposite magnetic field directions", but not yet understood physically. The branching process now explains the properties spin and entanglement physically: Spin is the consequence and physical expression of an enantiomorphic field branching that leads to a polarization of the field in the truest sense of the word - to two branches (or cells in the light sphere picture) with exactly opposite magnetic field vectors. This division and branching process thus generates a structured magnetic field that is in itself oppositely constituted, but represents a physically coherent whole. Geometrically, one can imagine this simply as a branching or cell division process, whereby the branches and cells form an opposite physical constitution. Exactly this is an en-antio-morphic system, it shows an anti- or mirror symmetry structure.

And exactly this - the process of branching - also changes the definition of c. We are now dealing with a bidirectional movement consisting of two components that move in opposite directions. The constant c is then only a relative speed between the two rays or wave fronts of an expanding but branched field. The distance to which the speed definition - and the practical measurement of lightspeed - refers is then twice as large as for Maxwell and Einstein: The definition of the speed of light of an expanding light sphere or of two light beams moving in opposite directions then refers to the entire distance s = 2 r, or to the diameter d of the lightsphere, and not to the radius and only theoretically possible one-way distances. This might have an effect on our astrophysical conceptions: After one year, the diameter of the light sphere is not 2 light years, but only one! Note that real measurements of the speed of light are always two-way measurements and thus also measurements on real bidirectional physical systems, what means that also reflections at the full mirror must produce a branched light ray system (as partial reflection does at the half-silvered mirror). One-way measurements and one-way definitions of the speed of light are therefore only imaginary, theoretical ideas that cannot be proven experimentally and have never been carried out before. Because they would require the existence of an absolute time, which would have to be verified additionally by already synchronized clocks at the emission and absorption points. 

By the way, the actual name of the so-called special theory of relativity was "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", its original reason the lack of relativity of motion in Maxwell's presentation of Faraday's induction experiment. How is this to understand? Physically, it plays no role wether the magnet is moved, the conductor loop, or both relative to each other. The physical effect - the induction voltage, the generation of an electric field with two opposite charges, hence the electric polarization in the conducting wire - is ever the same. This means that the crucial parameter is the change in distance (per time unit) and that the physical model must be symmetrical (invariant) with respect to the question of which part is moved. However, this is not the case in Maxwell's field model: the theoretical description depends on which part is moved. The young Einstein (just 19 years old) was the first to recognize a deep contradiction therein, but even after seven years of hard private research between 1898 and 1905 he could not find the error - neither in Maxwell's field theory nor in Lorentz's account, which also included the motion of electrons (imagined as bodies in the sense of mechanics) and the theory of electric current. So in the spring of 1905 he decided to accept the Maxwell-Hertz-Lorentz theory mathematically as given and concentrated instead on a theory of measurements with the help of the constant lightspeed to get a symmetric description of relative motion, applied on clock synchronisations and length measurements between two separated reference systems, always assuming that c is an absolute one-way velocity. The consequences are well known, although physically not exactly sense-making. And Maxwell's theoretical field description of induction still depends on which part is moved - as if it were two completely different natural phenomena. 

But this cannot be the case, what should inspire every young physicist to think deeply, independently and above all different, like the young Einstein. At this point there hides obviously a deep if not crucial problem of physics that has been waiting for a solution for a long time. The young Einstein had found a possible way to make a model which respects the relativity of motion, but left some questions unanswered, which means that still another or improved interpretation could unfold at this "junction of cognition" (in German: Weiche der Erkenntnis). Maxwell's imaginative construction with "egg cup" and "displacement current" is considered physically acceptable and an integral part of the theory, but was originally only a mathematical auxiliary concept to bridge gaps of physical understanding. This mathematical-geometric model, like any model or theory in physics, should not be confused with the absolute truth or the true constitution of reality, which can never be perfectly known. Consequently, there will always be possibilities for new discoveries and improvements of our conceptions. And these are hidden behind contradictions and ambiguities. In the course of further research, the student may then discover that at least Richard Feynman would have agreed with the problem description presented here, but was not very optimistic about a possible solution and thus a great discovery: "Yet in our explanation of the rule we have used two completely distinct laws for the two cases... We know of no other place in physics where such a simple and accurate principle requires for its real understanding an analysis in terms of two different phenomena. Usually such a beautiful generalization is found to stem from a single deep underlying principle. Nevertheless, in this case there does not appear to be any such profound implication. We have to understand the “rule” as the combined effects of two quite separate phenomena." (Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 2, No. 17 The Laws of Induction, 1964). What Feynman expresses can also be said more directly: We have not fully understood the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction. Thus we are forced to deal with two different field interactions and reference systems. Usually such an illogical conflict leads to the discovery of a new physical principle, to an unification and simplification of the theory. Therefore, we should be much more optimistic at this point: The problems of field theory have obviously not yet been fully clarified, so that the discovery of a new physical principle is to be expected, which should also have effects on the interpretation of electric current and Einstein's special relativity.  As in the case of Einstein, the understanding of electromagnetic induction involves a new kinematics, a new model of motion - but not only relative motion in the sense of mechanics, but above all non-mechanical motion in the sense of structural change. If it is true that "relativistic kinematics is independent of the theories that led to its formulation" (John Stachel), it should even be possible to understand Einstein's shortening of scales and the stretching of time as physical effects of field branching and fusion processes and thus to interpret them in a completely new way.

Maxwell's definition of the speed of light, which refers to hypothetical one-way measurements and the radius of the expanding light sphere, was retained by Lorentz and subsequently adopted unchanged by Einstein. And this brings us back to the interpretation of the constant c as it was originally given by Weber and Kohlrausch in 1854. It inspired Maxwell so much that he could conclude in 1861 that electromagnetic phenomena and light must be of the same nature...

In the interpretation of Weber and Kohlrausch, the constant c was a special state of symmetry characterizing the bidirectional motion of two opposite half electric unit charges (positive and negative electrical charge quantities precisely defined by meticulous electrostatic measurements) and their relative speed. Bidirectional motion of opposite charges was the model of the electric current since Ampère. Many physicists nowadays do not know anymore that the definition of a preferred direction of the electric current for Ampère was expressly only a linguistic simplification, not a physical theory, and that he rejected Faraday's field theory because he wanted to trace everything back to forces acting directly over distance in Newton's sense. In the bidirectional electric current model of Weber and Kohlrausch, the two half unit charges move in opposite directions with 1/2 c each, their relative speed is c. In this state of motion, neither electric nor magnetic forces act between the two opposite half electric unit charges, they cancel each other out. Maxwell turned the bidirectional motion into a directional one-way motion by assuming that the electric current is caused by only one kind of electric charge moving in one direction (he doubted the real existence of positive charges; they were seen as missing negative charges). He recognized that Weber's c was exactly half the speed of light optically measured by Fizeau and Foucault (in two-way mirror experiments), multiplied Weber's constant c by 2, and then interpreted the new c as one-way speed of light. And this might be the root of the problem of the missing symmetry of motion in the field interpretation of Faraday's induction experiment, which the young Einstein could not find. Maxwell's induction problem has not yet been solved, and this means that an alternative interpretation is very probable. This is an encouraging insight because it promises progress in physics. It is also interesting to note that it was not until the mid-1920s that it was possible to prove that electric current had a preferred direction. But even at this point our physical conceptions could still change.

In any case, we can now conclude that the field model must include a field state produced by a holistic division and branching process of the electromagnetic field, generating opposite charges, spin and entanglement - i.e. enantiomorphic field properties. Hence there are no mysterious remote effects, but only one coherent field system, which is practically always "local" and "holistic", independent of the complexity of the inner structure or extension. It also becomes clear that an expanding sphere of light does not move at all in the strong sense of mechanics, since it does not change its location. Instead, we are dealing with another kind of movement - a structural change within the field system caused by interaction. Weber and Kohlrausch did not think of fields, but we can, and we must.

(05.05.2019). * Read more in my new book:

Quantum Top Secret - The Solution of the Quantum Enigma

The Dramatic Downfall of the Atomic World View. Call for a Revolution in Science

To be published in September 2019. The corresponding chapter and further reading samples will soon be published online on this website. Criticism, comments and hints are very welcome. Pre-order your book here: