Quantum Gravity in a Laboratory?


It has long been thought that observing distinctive traces of quantum gravity in a laboratory setting is effectively impossible, since gravity is so much weaker than all the other familiar forces in particle physics. But the quantum gravity phenomenology community today seeks to do the (effectively) impossible, using a challenging novel class of `tabletop' Gravitationally Induced Entanglement (GIE) experiments, surveyed here. The hypothesized outcomes of the GIE experiments are claimed by some (but disputed by others) to provide a `witness' of the underlying quantum nature of gravity in the non-relativistic limit, using superpositions of Planck-mass bodies. We inspect what sort of achievement it would possibly be to perform GIE experiments, as proposed, ultimately arguing that the positive claim of witness is equivocal. Despite various sweeping arguments to the contrary in the vicinity of quantum information theory or given low-energy quantum gravity, whether or not one can claim to witness the quantum nature of the gravitational field in these experiments decisively depends on which out of two legitimate modelling paradigms one finds oneself in. However, by situating GIE experiments in a tradition of existing experiments aimed at making gravity interestingly quantum in the laboratory, we argue that, independently of witnessing or paradigms, there are powerful reasons to perform the experiments, and that their successful undertaking would indeed be a major advance in physics.



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Author Profiles

Nick Huggett
University of Illinois, Chicago
Mike D. Schneider
University of Missouri, Columbia

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