Spooky action: Nonlocality and motion in science and society

Tanja Traxler
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2021W, scientific seminar (SEW), 4.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03992


Ever since the development of modern natural science, scientific progress has gone hand in hand with technological advances, where one has amplified the other and vice-verse. Prominently, modern physics has given rise to a multitude of applications ranging from the Global Positioning System (GPS) and microelectronics to quantum information technology. As has become clear since the 1960ies, it is especially the seemingly obscure so-called nonlocal behavior of quantum physics (Cf. Bell 1964) – which Einstein referred to as ‘spooky action at a distance’ – that hosts multiple opportunities for practical applications.

In this seminar we will investigate some key phenomena of modern physics that especially address the concepts of spatiality and motion. Their epistemological relevance will be discussed as well as resulting technological applications. Insights of modern physics challenge classical concepts of space, motion, and cartography and thereby allow for the development of unpreceded technological advances – with far-reaching consequence for science and society.

Examination Modalities

Regular attendance and active participation in group discussions (30%)

Written reflections on discussed literature (50%)

Group presentation (20 %)


Literature (Selection):

Bell, John S. (1964): On the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox. In: Physics 1 (3), p. 195–200.

Bertlmann, Reinhold A.; Zeilinger, Anton (2002): Quantum [Un]speakables. From Bell to Quantum Information. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

Canales, Jimena (2020): Bedeviled. A shadow history of demons in science. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Gilder, Louisa (2009): The age of entanglement. When quantum physics was reborn. New York, NY: Knopf.

Gribbin, John (2014): Computing with quantum cats. From Colossus to Qubits. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Jammer, Max (1993 [1954]): Concepts of space. The history of theories of space in physics. 3rd enl. ed. New York: Dover Publications.

Kaiser, David (2012): How the hippies saved physics. Science, counterculture, and the quantum revival. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Mermin, David (2021): It's about time. Understanding Einstein's Relativity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


14 October 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34 (preliminary discussion)
28 October 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
04 November 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
11 November 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
18 November 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
25 November 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
02 December 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
09 December 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
16 December 2021, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34
13 January 2022, 11:00–13:30 Seminar Room 34 (examination)

Course Enrolment

From 01 September 2021, 00:00 to 02 October 2021, 23:59
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas: Study Area 2: Science and Technology

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Science and Technology: Deepening / Application

Individual courses: possible