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Jan 30, 2019

How does a quantum particle see the world?

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics, transportation

Researchers at the University of Vienna study the relevance of quantum reference frames for the symmetries of the world.

According to one of the most in physics, an observer on a moving train uses the same laws to describe a ball on the as an observer standing on the platform – are independent on the choice of a . Reference frames such as the train and the platform are physical systems and ultimately follow quantum-mechanical rules. They can be, for example, in a quantum state of superposition of different positions at once. So, what would the description of the ball look like for an observer on such a “quantum platform”? Researchers at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences proved that whether an object (in our example, the ball) shows quantum features depends on the reference frame. The physical laws, however, are still independent of it. The results are published in Nature Communications.

Physical systems are always described relative to a reference frame. For example, a ball bouncing on a railway platform can be observed either from the platform itself or from a passing train. A fundamental principle of physics, the principle of General Covariance, states that the laws of physics which describe the motion of the ball do not depend on the reference frame of the observer. This principle has been crucial in the description of motion since Galileo and central to the development of Einstein’s theory of relativity. It entails information about symmetries of the laws of physics as seen from different reference frames.

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