University of Pittsburgh
February 15, 2000

Relativity Vs. The Quantum: No Contradiction Pitt's Center for Philosophy of Science Annual Lecture Series

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 15 -- There is no contradiction between Einstein's theory of relativity and the quantum, according to University of Pittsburgh professor Rob Clifton, and those still debating the issue are invited to a lecture, "On the Alleged Lack of Peaceful Coexistence Between Relativity and the Quantum," sponsored by Pitt's Center for Philosophy of Science, Friday, February 18, at 3:30 p.m., in the Cathedral of Learning Room 817R.

"It is a scandal that few parties to this debate have tested their claims for or against peaceful co-existence in the context of what is currently regarded by theoretical physicists as a fully relativistic version of quantum theory, so-called 'quantum field theory,'" said Clifton, an associate professor in Pitt's Department of Philosophy. Clifton is also an associate director at the Center, as well as editor of the book, "Perspectives on Quantum Reality."

According to Clifton, the supposed contradictions arise from some "funny statistical predictions" of quantum theory, which make it appear that the act of measuring one particle directly influences other distant particles faster than light—in violation of relativity.

"In quantum field theory, these funny predictions actually follow logically from the relativistic requirement that nothing go faster than light, so they could hardly contradict that requirement!" countered Clifton.

The lecture is free and open to the public.