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November 17, 20224:00 pm – 5:00 pm (CDT)

Measurement of the Vacuum State as Thermal Bath Under Acceleration


Bill Unruh (University of British Columbia and Texas A&M University)


Stephen Fulling



Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy

College Station, Texas 77843

Event Details

In 1975-76, I argued that the vacuum state behaved like a thermal
bath to an accelerated observer. The temperature is proportional to
the acceleration, with 10^22 cm/s^2 corresponding to 1K. This is
closely related to the Hawking effect for black holes. While both
effects are extremely difficult to observe in nature, th ey can be
measured in analog systems. However, while the Hawking effect has
been seen in a Bose Einstein condensate, seeing the acceleration
temperature is much more difficult even in an analog system. I will
review the problem, the success for the Hawking effect, and a
proposal for detecting the acceleration temperature in a BEC vacuum
state. This will use a new type of particle detector for phonons in a BEC, which acts very much like
a microphone, converting quantum sound waves into quantum electromagnetic fields. It also uses
ideas from LIGO for the detection.

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