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36th International Physics Olympiad.

Salamanca (Espaa) 2005


R.S.E.F.

Th3

QUANTUM EFFECTS OF GRAVITY


SOLUTION

1.

The only neutrons that will survive absorption at A are those that cannot cross H. Their turning points will be below H.
So that, for a neutron entering to the cavity at height z with vertical velocity vz , conservation of energy implies
1
M v z2 + M g z M g H
2

2.

2 g ( H z ) v z ( z ) 2 g (H z )

Lc

The cavity should be long enough to ensure the absorption of all


neutrons with velocities outside the allowed range. Therefore,

neutrons have to reach its maximum height at least once within the
cavity. The longest required length corresponds to neutrons that enter
at z = H with vz = 0 (see the figure). Calling tf to their time of fall
Lc = v x 2 t f


1 2
H = gtf
2

3.

Lc = 2v x

2H
g

Lc = 6.4 cm

The rate of transmitted neutrons entering at a given height z, per unit height, is proportional to the range of allowed
velocities at that height, being the proportionality constant

dN c ( z )
= v z ,max ( z ) v z ,min ( z ) = 2 2 g (H z )
dz

The total number of transmitted neutrons is obtained by adding the neutrons entering at all possible heights. Calling
y=z/H
N c (H ) =

4.

N c (H ) =

dN c ( z ) =

2 2 g (H z )dz = 2 2 g H 3 / 2

1/ 2
(1 y ) dy = 2
1

2 g H 3 / 2 (1 y )3 / 2
3
0

4
2g H 3/ 2
3

For a neutron falling from a height H, the action over a bouncing cycle is twice the action during the fall or the ascent
S=2

p z dz = 2 M 2 g H 3 / 2

(1 y )
1

1/ 2

dy =

4
M 2g H 3/ 2
3

Using the BS quantization condition


1/ 3

4
S = M 2g H 3/ 2 = n h
3

9 h2

Hn =
32 M 2 g

n2/3

The corresponding energy levels (associated to the vertical motion) are

En = M g H n

9M g 2 h 2
En =

32

1/ 3

n2/3

Th 3 Solution Page 1 of 3

36th International Physics Olympiad. Salamanca (Espaa) 2005


R.S.E.F.

Numerical values for the first level:


1/ 3

9 h2

H1 =
32 M 2 g

= 1.65 10 5 m

H 1 = 16.5 m

E1 = M g H 1 = 2.71 10 31 J = 1.69 10 12 eV

E1 = 1.69 peV

Note that H1 is of the same order than the given cavity height, H = 50 m. This opens up the possibility for observing
the spatial quantization when varying H.

5.

The uncertainty principle says that the minimum time t and the minimum energy E satisfy the relation E t h .
During this time, the neutrons move to the right a distance
x = v x t v x

h
E

Now, the minimum neutron energy allowed in the cavity is E1, so that E E1 . Therefore, an estimation of the
minimum time and the minimum length required is
tq

h
= 0.4 10 3 s = 0.4 ms
E1

Lq v x

h
= 4 10 3 m = 4 mm
E1

Th 3 Solution Page 2 of 3

36th International Physics Olympiad. Salamanca (Espaa) 2005


R.S.E.F.

Th 3

Question

ANSWER SHEET

Basic formulas used

Analytical results

Numerical results

2 g (H z ) v z ( z ) 2 g (H z )

1
M v z2 + M g z M g H
2

Marking
guideline

1.5

Lc = v x 2t f

2
H=

1 2
gt
2 f

dN c
= v z ,max v z , min
dz
N c (H ) =

dN
0

]
N c (H ) =

Lc = 6.4 cm

2H
g

Lc = 2v x

4
2g H 3 / 2
3

1.3 + 0.2

2.5

c ( z)

1/ 3

S=2

p z dz = nh

E t h

E E1
x = v x t

9 h2

Hn =
32 M 2 g

9M g 2 h 2
En =

32

tq

h
E1

Lq v x

h
E1

n2/3

1/ 3

n2/3

H 1 = 16.5 m

1.6 + 0.2

E1 = 1.69 peV

0.5 + 0.2

t q 0.4 ms

1.3 + 0.2

Lq 4 mm

0.3 + 0.2

Th 3 Solution Page 3 of 3