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Hi Robert,

as far as I know, you are not quite right. "decoherence" and "collapse of
wave function" mean the same thing. you are right that wave function
collapses when it is observed following Copenhagen interpretation. von
Neumann constructed a somewhat different theory of the measuring process,
especially of the collapse of the wave function:

before the measurement, let the system S (to be measured) and the measuring
device A be in a well defined state. the measurement entangles the state of
the system and the device, such that you can read off the device the state
of the system. but coupling the system to the measuring device does not
result in a collapse of the wave function. the observer has to read off the
result from the measuring device, that means there is another measurement
process involved, where the system (to be measured) consists of the system
S and the device A. that's a never ending story called *infinite
regress*. von Neumann said that the collapse of the wave function
happens when the human observer perceives the result of the
measurement.

the collapse of the wave function in this case is more related to the
observer's knowledge about a system than in Copenhagen interpretation.

however, the *spooky action at a distance*, as you call it, **has**
to be there, if we want to deal with a theory describing submicroscopic
phenomena properly. this has been shown experimentally, by showing that the
so called *Bell's inequality* is not satisfied. for further comments
on Bell's inequality and non-locality in quantum physics see e.g. the
MadSci questions
Does
Prof Aspect's work mean that information travels faster than light?, What
are the implications of Quantum Mechanics being non-local? or search
our archives for *Bell's inequality*.

I hope I could help you,

Michael.

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