Time and Ordinary Quantum Mechanics (QM)

  • Edward Anderson
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 190)


This chapter recollects the postulates and laws of (non-relativistic) quantum mechanics, now emphasizing in particular the forms that time, space, clocks, ‘rods’ and observers take in quantum theory. We contrast these with their classical Newtonian counterparts. In particular, quantum mechanics has distinct external, dynamical and observable notions of time. We also comment on the time–energy uncertainty principle’s unusual features. Temporal notions additionally enter the postulates of quantum mechanics, in roles such as equal-time commutation relations, measurements at a given time, and evolution. We touch upon atomic clocks, and how these and some inputs into measuring lengths, are quantum-mechanical. We finally indicate how clocks are inherently imprecise at the quantum level, and have a finite probability for occasionally running backwards.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.DAMTPCentre for Mathematical SciencesCambridgeUK

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