Are Faster-Than-Light Influences Necessary?

  • Henry P. Stapp
Part of the Physics of Atoms and Molecules book series (PAMO)


The question of whether influences act instantaneously over finite distances is as old as modern science itself. Newton, when he proposed his universal law of gravitation, was asked how the postulated force was transmitted. He declined to frame a hypothesis regarding the mechanism, but declared that anyone who believed that the force could act over a finite distance without an intervening medium had a mind not fit for the contemplation of such matters. But in spite of Newton’s conviction, no significant progress was made on the question of action-at-a-distance for two centuries. Then Maxwell propounded his theory for the analogous problem of electric and magnetic forces. This theory entailed the existence of light, and correctly predicted its velocity. It also entailed that no electric or magnetic influence of a sufficiently tangible kind could be transmitted faster than light. During the present century Einstein, generalizing this result, formulated the principle that no “signal” could propagate faster than light.


Quantum Theory Light Cone Physical Reality Concrete Model External Reality 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry P. Stapp
    • 1
  1. 1.Lawrence Berkeley LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA

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