Cognitive structures of space-time

In physics, the analysis of the space representing states of physical systems often takes the form of a layer-cake of increasingly rich structure. In this paper, we propose an analogous hierarchy in the cognition of spacetime. Firstly, we explore the interplay between the objective physical properties of space-time and the subjective compositional modes of relational representations within the reasoner. Secondly, we discuss the compositional structure within and between layers. The existing evidence in the available literature is reviewed to end with some testable consequences of our proposal at the brain and behavioral level.

Adaptive phase estimation through a genetic algorithm

Quantum metrology is one of the most relevant applications of quantum information theory to quantum technologies. Here, quantum probes are exploited to overcome classical bounds in the estimation of unknown parameters. In this context, phase estimation, where the unknown parameter is a phase shift between two modes of a quantum system, is a fundamental problem. In practical and realistic applications, it is necessary to devise methods to optimally estimate an unknown phase shift by using a limited number of probes. Here we introduce and experimentally demonstrate a machine learning-based approach for the adaptive estimation of a phase shift in a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, tailored for optimal performances with limited resources. The employed technique is a genetic algorithm used to devise the optimal feedback phases employed during the estimation in an offline fashion. The results show the capability to retrieve the true value of the phase by using few photons, and to reach the sensitivity bounds in such small probe regime. We finally investigate the robustness of the protocol with respect to common experimental errors, showing that the protocol can be adapted to a noisy scenario. Such approach promises to be a useful tool for more complex and general tasks where optimization of feedback parameters is required.

Painlevé-Gullstrand coordinates discontinuity in the quantum Oppenheimer-Snyder model

A metric that describes a collapsing star and the surrounding black hole geometry accounting for quantum gravity effects has been derived independently by different research groups. There is consensus regarding this metric up until the star reaches its minimum radius, but there is disagreement about what happens past this event. The discrepancy stems from the appearance of a discontinuity in the Hamiltonian evolution of the metric components in Painlev’e-Gullstrand coordinates. Here we show that the continuous geometry that describes this phenomenon is represented by a discontinuous metric when written in these coordinates. The discontinuity disappears by changing coordinates. The discontinuity found in the Hamiltonian approach can therefore be interpreted as a coordinate effect. The geometry continues regularly into an expanding white hole phase, without the occurrence of a shock wave caused by a physical discontinuity.

Light-cone thermodynamics: purification of the Minkowski vacuum

We explicitly express the Minkowski vacuum of a massless scalar field in terms of the particle notion associated with suitable spherical conformal killing fields. These fields are orthogonal to the light wavefronts originating from a sphere with a radius of $r_H$ in flat spacetime: a bifurcate conformal killing horizon that exhibits semiclassical features similar to those of black hole horizons and Cauchy horizons of non-extremal spherically symmetric black holes. Our result highlights the quantum aspects of this analogy and extends the well-known decomposition of the Minkowski vacuum in terms of Rindler modes, which are associated with the boost Killing field normal to a pair of null planes in Minkowski spacetime (the basis of the Unruh effect). While some features of our result have been established by Kay and Wald’s theorems in the 90s — on quantum field theory in stationary spacetimes with bifurcate Killing horizons — the added value we provide here lies in the explicit expression of the vacuum.