location is an illusion

One of the aspects that instill the revolutionary impact of Charlies Darwin theory of evolution can be attributed to the firm importance of understanding time within both geology and biology. Geography is a subject of human knowledge. In the past 120 years human understanding of time has dramatically improved  including quantum mechanics, the theory of general relativity and the understanding of space-time (which provides our modern understanding of gravity). Geography has yet to fully integrate this wider human understanding.



In surveying distance and location are absolutes. Yet from a physics perspective, at the most fundamental level, the universe is nonlocal—there is no such thing as place or distance. In everyday speech, “locality” is used to describe a neighborhood, town or other place. But its original meaning, dating to the 17th century, is about the very concept of “place.” It means that everything has a place. You can always point to an object and say, “Here it is”.

The world we experience possesses all the qualities of locality. We have a strong sense of place and of the relations among places. We feel the pain of separation from those we love and the impotence of being too far away from something we want to affect. And yet multiple branches of physics now suggest that, at a deeper level, there may be no such thing as place and no such thing as distance.

For those who study it, nonlocality is the mother of all physics riddles, implicated in a broad cross section of the mysteries that physicists confront these days—not just the weirdness of quantum particles but also the fate of black holes, the origin of the cosmos and the essential unity of nature.