Answering Mermin’s challenge with conservation per no preferred reference frame

W. M. Stuckey, Elizabethtown College
Michael Silberstein, Elizabethtown College
Timothy McDevitt, Elizabethtown College
T. D. Le, Georgia Institute of Technology


In 1981, Mermin published a now famous paper titled, “Bringing home the atomic world: Quantum mysteries for anybody” that Feynman called, “One of the most beautiful papers in physics that I know.” Therein, he presented the “Mermin device” that illustrates the conundrum of quantum entanglement per the Bell spin states for the “general reader.” He then challenged the “physicist reader” to explain the way the device works “in terms meaningful to a general reader struggling with the dilemma raised by the device.” Herein, we show how “conservation per no preferred reference frame (NPRF)” answers that challenge. In short, the explicit conservation that obtains for Alice and Bob’s Stern-Gerlach spin measurement outcomes in the same reference frame holds only on average in different reference frames, not on a trial-by-trial basis. This conservation is SO(3) invariant in the relevant symmetry plane in real space per the SU(2) invariance of its corresponding Bell spin state in Hilbert space. Since NPRF is also responsible for the postulates of special relativity, and therefore its counterintuitive aspects of time dilation and length contraction, we see that the symmetry group relating non-relativistic quantum mechanics and special relativity via their “mysteries” is the restricted Lorentz group.