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The equivalence principle at work in radiation from unaccelerated atoms and mirrors

Fulling, S. A. and Wilson, J. H. (2019) The equivalence principle at work in radiation from unaccelerated atoms and mirrors. Physica Scripta, 94 (1). Art. No. 014004. ISSN 0031-8949. doi:10.1088/1402-4896/aaecaa.

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The equivalence principle is a perennial subject of controversy, especially in connection with radiation by a uniformly accelerated classical charge, or a freely falling charge observed by a supported detector. Recently, related issues have been raised in connection with the Unruh radiation associated with accelerated detectors (including two-level atoms and resonant cavities). A third type of system, very easy to analyze because of conformal invariance, is a two-dimensional scalar field interacting with perfectly reflecting boundaries (mirrors). After reviewing the issues for atoms and cavities, we investigate a stationary mirror from the point of view of an accelerated detector in 'Rindler space'. In keeping with the conclusions of earlier authors about the electromagnetic problem, we find that a radiative effect is indeed observed; from an inertial point of view, the process arises from a collision of the negative vacuum energy of Rindler space with the mirror. There is a qualitative symmetry under interchange of accelerated and inertial subsystems (a vindication of the equivalence principle), but it hinges on the accelerated detector's being initially in its own 'Rindler vacuum'. This observation is consistent with the recent work on the Unruh problem.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Fulling, S. A.0000-0003-2309-5965
Wilson, J. H.0000-0001-6903-0417
Additional Information:© 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 5 July 2018; Accepted 30 October 2018; Accepted Manuscript online 30 October 2018; Published 26 November 2018. JHW is grateful for the support of the Air Force Office for Scientific Research. This project was stimulated and facilitated by intensive discussions among SAF and the research group of Marlan Scully at IQSE–TAMU, the research group of George Matsas in Brazil, and Don Page and Bill Unruh. IQSE funding aided JHW to attend a workshop in College Station in October, 2017, and SAF to attend the PQE conference in Snowbird in January, 2018. Dr. Unruh observed that the initial burst at u = −2/a is physically understandable as specular reflection of the incoming Rindler vacuum flux at v = 0. Dr. Page made helpful comments on the manuscript.
Group:Institute for Quantum Information and Matter
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181126-133133488
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Official Citation:S A Fulling and J H Wilson 2019 Phys. Scr. 94 014004
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:91180
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:26 Nov 2018 21:38
Last Modified:12 Jul 2022 19:52

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