Photo: Christian Charisius / Reuters
Physicists from Austria and Australia have described the Einstein equivalence principle in the framework of quantum mechanics. This discovery may help to resolve contradictions arising from the attempts to create a unified theory that describes the gravitational and other types of fundamental interactions. Article scientists published in the journal Nature Physics.
According to the equivalence principle, a uniform gravitational field (Earth surface) all bodies move with the same as if they were in a uniformly accelerated coordinate system in the absence of gravity (accelerates in empty space Elevator). In other words, gravitational mass and inertial mass are equal. This principle also explains why all bodies regardless of mass, fall to the ground with the same speed. To move the bodies with a large mass is required to exert significant force, however, they are attracted by stronger gravity than light objects.
The equivalence principle lies at the Foundation of the General theory of relativity, but it applies only to atomic systems. Quantum mechanics explains the fundamental interactions in the microcosm, and the theory of gravity were incompatible, though each accurately describes the physical phenomena at appropriate scales. This is partly due to the fact that it was not known how the equivalence principle can be applied to fundamental particles, which, for example, can be in a superposition — simultaneously in two mutually exclusive energy States.
In the new work, the researchers showed that the equivalence principle can be performed in the quantum world. The new wording takes into account a superposition of energy States, and since energy can be expressed through the mass, the superposition of the masses. So physicists postulated the equivalence between the rest mass of the particle, inertial mass and gravitational mass. However, scientists note that for the proof of principle will require experimental studies.
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