Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One clock with two times: When quantum mechanics meets general relativity

Date:
October 25, 2011
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
General relativity, the joint theory of gravity, space and time gives predictions that become clearly evident on a cosmic scale of stars and galaxies. Quantum effects are fragile and observed on small scales like single particles and atoms. To test the interplay between them is very hard. Now theoretical physicists propose an experiment to overlap of the two theories.

According to general relativity, time flows differently at different positions due to the distortion of space-time by a nearby massive object. A single clock being in a superposition of two locations allows probing quantum interference effects in combination with general relativity.
Credit: Quantum Optics, Quantum Nanophysics, Quantum Information; University of Vienna.

The unification of quantum mechanics and Einstein's general relativity is one of the most exciting and still open questions in modern physics. General relativity, the joint theory of gravity, space and time gives predictions that become clearly evident on a cosmic scale of stars and galaxies. Quantum effects, on the other hand, are fragile and are typically observed on small scales, e.g. when considering single particles and atoms. That is why it is very hard to test the interplay between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

Related Articles


Now theoretical physicists led by Časlav Brukner at the University of Vienna propose a novel experiment which can probe the overlap of the two theories. The focus of the work is to measure the general relativistic notion of time on a quantum scale.

The findings were recently published in Nature Communications.

Time in general relativity

One of the counterintuitive predictions of Einstein's general relativity is that gravity distorts the flow of time. The theory predicts that clocks tick slower near a massive body and tick faster the further they are away from the mass. This effect results in a so-called "twin paradox": if one twin moves out to live at a higher altitude, he will age faster than the other twin who remains on the ground. This effect has been precisely verified in classical experiments, but not in conjunction with quantum effects, which is the aim of the newly proposed experiment.

Quantum interference and complementarity

The Viennese group of researchers wants to exploit the extraordinary possibility that a single quantum particle can lose the classical property of having a well-defined position, or as phrased in quantum mechanical terms: it can be in a "superposition." This allows for wave-like effects, called interference, with a single particle. However, if the position of the particle is measured, or even if it can in principle be known, this effect is lost. In other words, it is not possible to observe interference and simultaneously know the position of the particle. Such a connection between information and interference is an example of quantum complementarity -- a principle proposed by Niels Bohr. The experimental proposal now published in "Nature Communications" combines this principle with the "twin paradox" of general relativity.

Einstein's "twin paradox" for a quantum "only child"

The team at the University of Vienna considers a single clock (any particle with evolving internal degrees of freedom such as spin) which is brought in a superposition of two locations -- one closer and one further away from the surface of Earth. According to general relativity, the clock ticks at different rates in the two locations, in the same way as the two twins would age differently. But since the time measured by the clock reveals the information on where the clock was located, the interference and the wave-nature of the clock is lost. "It is the twin paradox for a quantum 'only child', and it requires general relativity as well as quantum mechanics. Such an interplay between the two theories has never been probed in experiments yet" -- says Magdalena Zych, the lead author of the paper and member of the Vienna Doctoral Program CoQuS. It is therefore the first proposal for an experiment that allows testing the genuine general relativistic notion of time in conjunction with quantum complementarity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Magdalena Zych, Fabio Costa, Igor Pikovski, Časlav Brukner. Quantum interferometric visibility as a witness of general relativistic proper time. Nature Communications, 2011; 2: 505 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1498

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "One clock with two times: When quantum mechanics meets general relativity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020024718.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2011, October 25). One clock with two times: When quantum mechanics meets general relativity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020024718.htm
University of Vienna. "One clock with two times: When quantum mechanics meets general relativity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020024718.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British 'Bio-Bus' Is Powered By Human Waste

British 'Bio-Bus' Is Powered By Human Waste

Buzz60 (Nov. 21, 2014) British company GENeco debuted what its calling the Bio-Bus, a bus fueled entirely by biomethane gas produced from food scraps and sewage. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins