Time plays a fundamental role in our ability to make sense of the physical laws in the world around us. The nature of time has puzzled people –- from the ancient Greeks to the present day -– resulting in a long running debate between philosophers and physicists alike to whether time needs change to exist (the so-called relatival theory), or whether time flows regardless of change (the so-called substantival theory). One way to decide between the two is to attempt to measure the flow of time with a stationary clock, since if time were substantival, the flow of time would manifest itself in the experiment. Alas, conventional wisdom suggests that in order for a clock to function, it cannot be a static object, thus rendering this experiment seemingly impossible. We show that counter-intuitively, a quantum clock can measure the passage of time, even while being switched off, lending support for the substantival theory of time.


Talk Number PIRSA:21060103
Speaker Profile Mischa Woods
Collection Quantizing Time