Quantum clocks and the foundations of relativity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsJ.M. Smulko, Y. Blanter, M.I. Dykman, L.B. Kish
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventNoise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards II - Maspalomas
Duration: May 26 2004May 28 2004


OtherNoise and Information in Nanoelectronics, Sensors, and Standards II


  • Principle of equivalence
  • Quantum tunnelling
  • Superluminal propagation
  • Theory of relativity
  • Tunnelling time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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