Emergent Time in Barbour and Bertotti\'s Timeless Mechanics

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PIRSA Number: 
08040038

Abstract

The problem of time is studied in a toy model for quantum gravity: Barbour and Bertotti\'s timeless formulation of non-relativistic mechanics. We quantize this timeless theory using path integrals and compare it to the path integral quantization of parameterized Newtonian mechanics, which contains absolute time. In general, we find that the solutions to the timeless theory are energy eigenstates, as predicted by the usual canonical quantization. Nevertheless, the path integral formalism brings new insight as it allows us to precisely determine the difference between the theory with and without time. This difference is found to lie in the form of the constraints imposed on the gauge fixing functions by the boundary conditions. In the stationary phase approximation, the constraints of both theories are equivalent. This suggests that a notion of time can emerge in systems for which the stationary phase approximation is either good or exact. As there are many similarities between this model of classical mechanics and general relativity, these results could provide insight to how time might be emergent in a theory of quantum gravity.