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Proceedings Paper

Quantum clocks and the foundations of relativity
Author(s): Paul C. W. Davies
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Paper Abstract

The conceptual foundations of the special and general theories of relativity differ greatly from those of quantum mechanics. Yet in all cases investigated so far, quantum mechanics seems to be consistent with the principles of relativity theory, when interpreted carefully. In this paper I report on a new investigation of this consistency using a model of a quantum clock to measure time intervals; a topic central to all metric theories of gravitation, and to cosmology. Results are presented for two important scenarios related to the foundations of relativity theory: the speed of light as a limiting velocity and the weak equivalence principle (WEP). These topics are investigated in the light of claims of superluminal propagation in quantum tunnelling and possible violations of WEP. Special attention is given to the role of highly non-classical states. I find that by using a definition of time intervals based on a precise model of a quantum clock, ambiguities are avoided and, at least in the scenarios investigated, there is consistency with the theory of relativity, albeit with some subtleties.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 May 2004
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 5472, Noise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards II, (25 May 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.547361
Show Author Affiliations
Paul C. W. Davies, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5472:
Noise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards II
Janusz M. Smulko; Yaroslav Blanter; Mark I. Dykman; Laszlo B. Kish, Editor(s)

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