I read a few weeks ago that researchers at the University of Tokyo were able to teleport light particles from one place to another. The researchers were able to do so by using a unique attribute of quantum physics called “quantum entanglement.” Apparently, two particles can be “entangled” together so that even when separated by large distance, they can influence each other instantly. Einstein himself was so puzzled by the strangeness of this phenomenon that he dubbed it: “Spooky action at a distance.”
Later that evening, while I was picking up a product from a shelf in a major retailer, a thought crossed my mind. By lifting up this specific item I had create a demand for its replacement. My action triggers a response in matter of weeks, days, or maybe even hours. The cashier will scan the item I bought; computer software will update the inventory and reorder, and a new item will be made.
With modern telecommunications channels, it’s possible that my actions on aisles 6, 7, and 12 in a Home Depot in New Jersey will trigger instantaneous effects in China, California and who-knows-where-else. Once I create a demand, there is no turning back. It is as if there is an invisible entanglement between the products in my cart, and the invisible products that will soon replace them.
For every object we buy, we are responsible for creating the demand that triggers its substitution. By swiping our credit card we are signaling the companies that developed, marketed, advertized, and sold this item: “keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing.” This can have a multiplier effect; by ordering an overfished species, we’ve just demanded a replacement.
Everything is instantaneously entangled: mysterious particles, U.S. customers and far-east manufacturers, fish and diners. Spooky action at a distance, indeed.