Berlin 2014 – wissenschaftliches Programm
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PV II: Plenarvortrag
Montag, 17. März 2014, 09:15–10:00, Audimax
Reverse-engineering quantum theory: (anti-)matter waves, interferometry, and clocks — •Holger Müller — University of California, Berkeley
Interpreting quantum mechanics still holds profound mysteries. Finding alternative formulations is one way to improve our understanding. We will discuss the “clock picture”: Matter-wave packets are viewed as oscillators at the Compton frequency mc2/h that are red-shifted and time-dilated by gravity and relative motion (m is the particle mass). From this picture, one may use path integrals to obtain the Schrödinger equation for spinless, slow particles in weak gravity. Starting with a relativistic ansatz, however, should be a way to obtain a relativistic result. We will extend the clock picture and derive the Dirac equation for particles with spin, of any velocity, in curved-space time, with and without electromagnetic fields. All results are shown to agree with quantum mechanics. The clock picture is not just valid, but indeed powerful enough to re-derive the theory.
The talk will give an overview of experiments that were inspired by this picture: tests of the equivalence principle at 10−9 accuracy; a clock that measures time by the Compton frequency of cesium atoms; and a realization of the unit of mass with state of the art precision. Moreover, I will present our ongoing measurement of the fine structure constant. At 2× 10−9 accuracy, it has been the world’s third best. We have since reduced the leading systematic error about 8-fold and the statistical error about 10-fold. As an outlook, we will discuss atom interferometry in space, with antimatter, and for gravitational wave detection.