Adrian Kent

A proposed Test of the Local Casuality of Spacetime

Air Date: 07/21/2006

Air Time: 10:15 AM EST

Length: 0 Hours, 55 Minutes, 35 Seconds

Description:
A theory governing the metric and matter fields in spacetime is {\it

locally causal} if the probability distribution for the fields in any region is determined solely by physical data in its past, i.e. it is independent of events at space-like separated points. This is the case according to general relativity, and it is natural to hypothesise that it should also hold true in any theory in which the fundamental description of space-time is classical and geometric --- for instance, some hypothetical theory which stochastically couples a classical spacetime geometry to a quantum field theory of matter. On the other hand, a quantum theory of gravity should allow the creation of spacetimes which macroscopically violate local causality.

I describe a feasible experiment to test the local causality of spacetime, and hence to test whether gravity is better described, in this respect, by general relativity or by quantum theory. The experiment will either identify a definite limit to the domain of validity of quantum theory or else produce significant evidence for the hypothesis that gravity is described by a quantum theory.

locally causal} if the probability distribution for the fields in any region is determined solely by physical data in its past, i.e. it is independent of events at space-like separated points. This is the case according to general relativity, and it is natural to hypothesise that it should also hold true in any theory in which the fundamental description of space-time is classical and geometric --- for instance, some hypothetical theory which stochastically couples a classical spacetime geometry to a quantum field theory of matter. On the other hand, a quantum theory of gravity should allow the creation of spacetimes which macroscopically violate local causality.

I describe a feasible experiment to test the local causality of spacetime, and hence to test whether gravity is better described, in this respect, by general relativity or by quantum theory. The experiment will either identify a definite limit to the domain of validity of quantum theory or else produce significant evidence for the hypothesis that gravity is described by a quantum theory.