Scientists test a mind-boggling theory of time in a nuclear reactor
A new experience could prove a wild quantum theory of time.
The secret lies in tiny localized temporal variations, possibly caused by neutrinos.
The theory is far off, but the results will help other scientists.
Physicist Joan Vaccaro was the first to articulate the divisive “quantum theory of time” – according to which “dynamics may be a phenomenological consequence of a fundamental violation of time-reversal symmetry”, in her words –few years ago. But now researchers can use neutrinos and antineutrinos to measure the passage of time in a powerful nuclear reactor.
➡ Join robot pop pro and get exclusive answers to your burning science questionsfrom now on.
Vaccaro was open about the theory as an educated guess rather than a sure thing, and the results should be interesting to other scientists anyway.
What happens when time passes? It depends on who you ask, but the passage of time is still a pretty big mystery. For people, time flows in what seems to be one direction: from the past to the future. Physicists usually explain this as time going from lower entropy to higher entropy, or disorder.
Instead, Vaccaro thinks entropy might result from time, not the other way around. New AtlasMichael Irving reports:
“[Vaccaro] uses the analogy of a tree blowing in the wind – while the leaves (entropy) may appear to shake the tree, they are not responsible for the movement themselves, but are the result of another force (wind) . In this new theory, the “wind” is created by violations of time-reversal symmetry (violations of T). »
The analogy of a tree goes further, as it represents a split that Vaccaro identifies in the idea of ”space-time”, as a word and concept knit together, rather than space. and weather. A tree stands in space as a localized, specific and discreet object. But time flows around all things almost interchangeably, except in specific instances when it’s bent. If time is “localized”, it is in huge regions of space such as planets or entire systems.
To test Vaccaro’s theory, scientists use the Open Pool Australian Lightwater Reactor (OPAL) in Sydney, Australia. They installed atomic clocks in different parts of the reactor. As the particles react and burst in the reactor, time could flex with these changes.
“[T]he investigators traveled to ANSTO to set up two timing stations with atomic clocks near the reactor, where they will collect data for six months. Each station includes a primary cesium clock, three secondary clocks and the measurement systems to compare the clocks to less than one billionth of a second.
➡ Things we love: Best microscopes for every age
Why is a nuclear reactor the right place for this experiment? Because a specific product of the nuclear reaction, neutrinos, is believed to cause violations of time-reversal symmetry, or T violations. As with load parityneutrinos are a key special case that allows scientists to shake up evidence for complex physical phenomena.
Measuring the two atomic clocks over six months should show scientists if a very localized time change is occurring in the reactor. There will even be scheduled downtimes, giving scientists clear on and off times to compare to their atomic clocks.
The watched pot may never boil, but watching this nuclear reactor could show us a whole new understanding of time.
🎥 Now watch this:
You might also like