Michael Dickson

Dr. Michael Dickson


University of South Carolina


Quantum Reference Frames and the Origins of Uncertainty

Thursday, April 10, 2008

4:00 p.m.

Cardwell 102



The basic thought behind this talk is that physical quantities are defined in part by reference frames, and that we can understand something about quantum uncertainty by appeal to the nature of reference frames in quantum theory.  I will begin with a brief discussion of the history of the concept of a reference frame, designed to help clarify the role that reference frames play in the definition of physical quantities.  I will then review a mathematical framework that clearly
expresses the relationship between (generalized) reference frames and the physical quantities that they define.  Finally, I will consider the classic example of position and momentum, and discuss the manner in which the reference-frame-dependence of those quantities gives rise, in quantum theory, to position-momentum uncertainty.