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Bassam Helou

Measurable signatures of quantum mechanics in a classical spacetime

We propose an optomechanics experiment that can search for signatures of a fundamentally classical theory of gravity and in particular of the many-body Schroedinger-Newton (SN) equation, which governs the evolution of a crystal under a self-gravitational field. The SN equation predicts that the dynamics of a macroscopic mechanical oscillator’s center of mass wavefunction differ from the predictions of standard quantum mechanics. This difference is largest for low-frequency oscillators, and for materials, such as Tungsten or Osmium, with small quantum fluctuations of the constituent atoms around their lattice equilibrium sites. Light probes the motion of these oscillators and is eventually measured in order to extract valuable information on the pendulum’s dynamics. Due to the non-linearity contained in the SN equation, we analyze the fluctuations of measurement results differently than in standard quantum mechanics. We revisit how to model a thermal bath, and the wavefunction collapse postulate, resulting in two prescriptions for analyzing the quantum measurement of the light. We demonstrate that both predict features, in the outgoing light’s phase fluctuations’ spectrum, which are separate from classical thermal fluctuations and quantum shot noise, and which can be clearly resolved with state of the art technology. In particular, we show how one of them is already tested by LISA pathfinder.

The abstract is associated with the article https://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.96.044008.

Measurable signatures of quantum mechanics in a classical spacetime by Bassam Helou
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