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Is temperature the speed of time? Thermal time and the Tolman effect



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Recording Details

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PIRSA Number: 
10110071

Abstract

Why is a vertical column of gas at thermal equilibrium slighly hotter at the bottom than a the top? My answer in this talk will be that time runs slower in a deeper gravitational potential, and temperature is nothing but the (inverse) speed of time. Specifically, I will (i) introduce Rovelli's notion of thermal time, (ii) use it to provide a "principle" characterization of thermal equilibrium in stationary spacetimes, and (iii) effortlessly derive the Tolman-Ehrenfest relation. This approach contrasts with the "constructive" accounts of thermal equilibrium in curved spacetimes given in the literature, and vindicates the time-temperature relationship cropping up in the Hawking-Unruh and Kubo-Martin-Schwinger relations.