A simple experiment could reveal quantum foam. (Courtesy: iStockphoto/Vladimir Vladimirov)

Table-top test targets quantum foam

Nov 29, 2012

One of the biggest challenges in physics – finding evidence for quantum gravity – could be tackled using a simple table-top experiment, according to Jacob Bekenstein from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Bekenstein, who is best known for studying the thermal properties of black holes, has come up with an interesting new proposal for using single photons to probe what is known as “quantum foam”. The foam, which was introduced in 1955 by the US physicist John Wheeler, is believed to exist on length scales so small that quantum fluctuations affect space–time.

Bekenstein’s proposal is the latest effort in the quest to understand how quantum mechanics can be unified with Einstein’s general theory of relativity – a problem that has eluded physicists since they first began to understand the quantum and relativistic worlds in the early 20th century. One of the main reasons why physicists have struggled with developing a theory of quantum gravity is a complete lack of experimental evidence. The problem is that the effects of quantum gravity are only expected to be measurable over extremely small distances.

Read more: Table-top test targets quantum foam – physics world.

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