"In physics, action at a distance is the concept that an object can be moved, changed, or otherwise affected without being physically touched (as in mechanical contact) by another object. That is, it is the nonlocal interaction of objects that are separated in space. Pioneering physicist Albert Einstein described the phenomenon as "spooky action at a distance".
This term was used most often in the context of early theories of gravity and electromagnetism to describe how an object responds to the influence of distant objects. For example, Coulomb's law and the law of universal gravitation are such early theories.
More generally "action at a distance" describes the failure of early atomistic and mechanistic theories which sought to reduce all physical interaction to collision. The exploration and resolution of this problematic phenomenon led to significant developments in physics, from the concept of a field, to descriptions of quantum entanglement and the mediator particles of the Standard Model"
I stumbled on this term while looking into early radios and specifically spark gap transmitters. This deceptively innocent and simple sounding expression seems to have bridged the gap between psuedo-science, magic, and very real science. (This actually cost me sleep last night.)
"Action at a Distance" experiments led to many very real inventions like radio and is still a productive concept in quantum physics such as: http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Ansible which could potentially lead to FTL communications and even travel. "Spooky action" is a quaint expression.
"Action at a Distance" is a central concept in my 'Certified, Licensed Exterminator' (non steampunk, science fiction) stories. And while I have connected these to my steampunk efforts. AaaD has not made the crossover. At least not yet.
https://theconversation.com/scientists-discover-how-to-harness-the-... Harnessing "spooky action."
Huh. No mention of using groups of quantumly entangled (I don't think that's a real expression, but I like it) particles for faster than light communication. I guess no one thinks we need that yet. I decided they would be useful for that around 2001. So I guess there are "officially" five states of matter now. Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, and Bose-Einstein Condensate. Neato.
Potentially FTL transportation as well.
The FTL communications is becoming increasingly important for https://www.nature.com/news/space-weather-forecast-to-improve-with-... Those seconds could be very precious.
I keep up with space weather, to a degree, since it can affect terrestrial radio communications, something I have an interest in. I usually look at http://www.spaceweather.com/ to see what's what.