Does a neutron know that the earth is rotating?
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In 1979 we observed the quantum mechanical phase shift of neutron deBroglie waves due to the Earth’s rotation. After the result was published, a number of very nice theoretical papers on the experiment appeared. I have two favorites: The one by M. Dresden and C. N. Yang in which they view the effect as due to the Doppler shift created by reflection from moving mirrors; and the other one by J. J. Sakurai in which he views the origin of the effect as being due to a flux of rotation threading the neutron interferometer loop, in much the same way that magnetic flux threads the electron interferometer loop to create the topological Aharonov-Bohm effect. Here, I would like to place their explanations of the physics of this experiment in juxtaposition with my own understanding of it.
KeywordsNeutron interferometry Earth’s rotation Earth’s gravity
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