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The Relativity Principle in Quantum Mechanics



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PIRSA Number: 
16100058

Abstract

In order to solve the problem of quantum gravity, we first need to pose the problem. In this talk I will argue that the problem of quantum gravity arises already in the domain of quantum mechanics and the relativity principle. Specifically, the relativity principle implies that the concept of inertial motion should extend also to those systems that are in quantum superpositions of inertial motions. By contrast, relativistic quantum field theory only considers the point of view of classical observers in states of definite relative motion (i.e. the observers of a quantum field do not include inertial observers in quantum superpositions). The problem is that, if we extend the class of inertial observers to include quantum observers, the manifold of local events becomes ill-defined, as `locality' itself becomes an observer-relative property of an event. Thus, the Relativity Principle and the Superposition Principle are jointly opposed to the concept of a space-time manifold of local events, and our understanding of relativistic quantum theory needs to be revised before gravity even enters the picture.