Physicists have found a way to cause a strange glow of warp acceleration

(ORDO NEWS) — Every time you take a step, the space itself glows with a soft, warm light.

It’s called the Fulling-Davis-Unruh effect (or sometimes just the Unruh effect if you’re short on time). the glow of radiation emerging from a vacuum is akin to the mysterious Hawking radiation that is thought to surround black holes.

Only in this case it is a product of acceleration, not gravity.

Maybe I don’t feel? There is a good reason for that. You need to move at incredible speed to feel even the faintest of Unruh’s beams.

So far, this effect remains a purely theoretical phenomenon that we are unable to measure. But that may soon change after a discovery made by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Back to basics, they demonstrated that there might be a way to stimulate the Unruh effect so that it could be studied directly under less extreme conditions.

In an unexpected twist, they might also reveal the secret of making matter invisible.

The real prize, however, would open up new horizons in experiments that aim to combine two powerful but incompatible theories in physics: one describes the behavior of particles, and the other covers the curvature of space and time.

“The theory of general relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics are currently still somewhat at odds, but there must be a unifying theory that describes how everything works in the universe,” says mathematician Achim Kempf from the University of Waterloo.

“We have been looking for a way to bring these two big theories together, and this work helps bring us closer together, opening up opportunities to test new theories through experimentation.”

The Unruh effect sits right on the edge of quantum laws and general relativity.

According to quantum physics, an atom, all alone in a vacuum, would have to wait for an incoming photon to pass through an electromagnetic field and cause its electrons to wiggle before it could consider itself illuminated.

If we consider relativity, there is a way to cheat. By simply accelerating, the atom can experience the smallest oscillation in the surrounding electromagnetic field in the form of low-energy photons transformed by a kind of Doppler effect.

This interaction between the relative experience of waves in a quantum field and the oscillation of the electrons of an atom depends on the total time of their frequencies. Any quantum effects that do not depend on time are usually ignored, since on paper they tend to cancel out in the long run.

Together with colleagues Vivishek Sudhir and Barbara Soda Kempf, he showed that when an atom is accelerated, these usually minor conditions become much more important and can become dominant effects.

Proper tickling of the atom, such as with a powerful laser, has shown that these alternative interactions can be used to make moving atoms experience the Unruh effect without the need for large accelerations.

As a bonus, the team also found that, given the right trajectory, an accelerating atom can become transparent to incoming light, effectively suppressing its ability to absorb or emit certain photons.

Beyond science fiction applications, by identifying ways to influence the ability of an accelerating atom to interact with ripples in a vacuum, we may be able to come up with new ways to find wh before quantum physics and general relativity give way to a new theoretical framework.

“For more than 40 years, experiments have been hampered by the inability to explore the interaction of quantum mechanics and gravity,” says physicist Sudhir. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We have a viable opportunity to study this interface in the lab. If we can figure out some of these important questions, things could change.”


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