FEB 17, 2021 8:00 AM PST

Is it possible to demonstrate quantum gravity?

New, exciting research on quantum computation comes from an international collaboration led by the University of Nottingham. Their study proposes an experiment that would shed light on quantum gravity and classical gravity and is published under the title "Non-Gaussianity as a signature of a quantum theory of gravity" in PRX Quantum.

"For more than a hundred years, physicists have struggled to determine how the two foundational theories of science, quantum theory and general relativity, which respectively describe microscopic and macroscopic phenomena, are unified into a single overarching theory of nature,” explains Dr. Richard Howl from the university’s School of Mathematics.

“During this time, they have come up with two fundamentally contrasting approaches, called 'quantum gravity' and 'classical gravity'. However, a complete lack of experimental evidence means that physicists do not know which approach the overarching theory actually takes, our research provides an experimental approach to solving this."

The team, composed of physicists specializing in quantum computing, quantum gravity, and quantum experiments, describes how to carry out an experiment that would test the existence of quantum gravity using a single quantum system and gravitating “atom”. Were it to work, the experiment could provide the information needed to understand, at last, the fundamental theory of nature.

Collaborator Dr. Marios Christodoulou, from the University of Hong Kong, exclaimed: "This research is particularly exciting as the experiment proposed would also connect with the more philosophical idea that the universe is behaving as an immense quantum computer that is calculating itself, by demonstrating that quantum fluctuations of spacetime are a vast natural resource for quantum computation."

Sources: PRX Quantum, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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