Research describing the effect shows that superposition — the ability of an atom to exist in more than one state at the same time — leads to a correction in atomic clocks known as “quantum time dilation.”.
The research, published today (October 23, 2020) in the journal Nature Communications, takes into account quantum effects beyond Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to make a new prediction about the nature of time.
“Quantum time dilation is a consequence of both quantum mechanics and Einstein’s relativity, and thus offers a new possibility to test fundamental physics at their intersection.”.
Quantum mechanics, the theory of motion governing the atomic realm, allows for a clock to move as if it were simultaneously traveling at two different speeds: a quantum “superposition” of speeds.
The research paper takes this possibility into account and provides a probabilistic theory of timekeeping, which led to the prediction of quantum time dilation.
To develop the new theory, the team combined modern techniques from quantum information science with a theory developed in the 1980s that explains how time might emerge out of a quantum theory of gravity.
“Physicists have sought to accommodate the dynamical nature of time in quantum theory for decades,” said Mehdi Ahmadi, a lecturer at Santa Clara University who co-authored the study.
“In our work, we predict corrections to relativistic time dilation which stem from the fact that the clocks used to measure this effect are quantum mechanical in nature.”.
If such an atom moves in a superposition of different speeds, then its lifetime will either increase or decrease depending on the nature of the superposition relative to an atom moving at a definite speed?
But the ability to account for this effect could enable a test of quantum time dilation using the most advanced atomic clocks.
Just as the utility of quantum mechanics for medical imaging, computing, and microscopy, might have been difficult to predict when that theory was being developed in the early 1900s, it is too early to imagine the full practical implications of quantum time dilation.
The cosmic microwave background has been used as a proxy for a universal reference frame, as have distant quasars, but strictly speaking, there is no such thing.
The relativistic point of reference is relative to the observers.
The first is Newtonian which just says when you apply a force to a body it will accelerate and therefore move faster than it was and that is a type of absolute motion reference frame but only for accelerations.
Now here’s the kicker, Relativity does give us an absolute motion measurement because light from any object in motion must always travel at exactly C no matter from what reference frame it is measured.
This gets into time dilation of one reference frame to another and the result is every reference frame see C exactly as the same absolute speed measure, but this is very much complicated by any time dilations operant at each reference frame
So in fact although C is an absolute speed measurement indecent of any reference frame, it can not be used to get around measuring any bodies traveling less than C must be measured relative to each other
But its not so bad, almost everything is measured astrophysically as the speed relative to the Earth so at least the same reference frame is used so speeds can be compared
Frankly relative motion between two quantum probability wave functions resulting in time dilation is kind of a nutty idea
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