My brother was cleaning the downstairs party room the last hour, while I was taping a medley mix of favorites from the families record collection. I’d just put on a new album, and was dropping the needle as my brother walked up the stairs.
For no known reason, he remembered an old Spike Jones song that used to make us laugh years ago when my Dad played it. The song is the story of a horserace, and ends with the shouting of “and the winner is!… Beetle bomb”.
My brother screamed out “and the winner is!”
The needle hit the record, but missed the intended song, and caught the ending of the Beetlebomb song. I was unaware that the Beetlebomb song preceded my intended song.
My brother then screamed out, “Beetlebomb”, as the needle hit, at the exact precice same moment, and Beetlebomb roared out full volume through Dad’s Advent speakers. My bro was stunned – he thought his voice had boomed through the house at 85 decibels.
The odds against this event were as close to impossible as possible, and I was never able to tuck the event away as an anomaly – it must have implications, somehow.
- 28 September 2006
- Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
The idea that the present can affect the past, and the future can affect the present. Strange as it sounds, retrocausality is perfectly permissible within the known laws of nature. It has been debated for decades, mostly in the realm of philosophy and quantum physics. Trouble is, nobody has done the experiment to show it happens in the real world, so the door remains wide open for a demonstration.
It might even happen soon. Researchers are on the verge of experiments that will finally hold retrocausality’s feet to the fire by attempting to send a signal to the past. What’s more, they need not invoke black holes, wormholes, extra dimensions or other exotic implements of time travel. It should all be doable with the help of a state-of-the-art optics workbench and the bizarre yet familiar tricks of quantum particles. If retrocausality is confirmed – and that is a huge if – it would overturn our most cherished notions about the nature of cause and effect and how the universe works.
While the jury is out awaiting the results of Cramer’s experiment, some researchers expect reverse causality will play an increasingly important role in our understanding of the universe. “I’m going with my gut here,” says Avshalom Elitzur, a physicist and philosopher at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, “but I believe that when we finally find the theory we’re all looking for, a theory that unifies quantum mechanics and relativity, it will involve retrocausality.” If it also involves winning yesterday’s lottery, Cramer won’t be telling.
Research in presentiment at the University of Amsterdam suggests that the brain reacts to events before they happen. A discussion on Professor Bierman’s work is here. I could not find his work peer reviewed or duplicated.