Publication Date

2006

Journal or Book Title

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS

Abstract

We consider the interference of two overlapping ideal Bose-Einstein condensates. The usual description of this phenomenon involves the introduction of a condensate wave function with a definite phase. We investigate the origin of this phase and the theoretical basis of treating interference. It is possible to construct a phase state for which the particle number is uncertain, but the phase is known. How such a state would be prepared before an experiment is not obvious. We show that a phase can also arise from experiments using condensates with known particle numbers. The analysis of measurements in such states also gives us a prescription for preparing phase states. The connection of this procedure to questions of spontaneously broken gauge symmetry and to hidden variables is discussed.

Comments

This is the pre-published version which is collected from arXiv. The published version is at http://ajp.aapt.org/resource/1/ajpias/v74/i10/p880_s1

Volume

74

Pages

880-887

Issue

10

Included in

Physics Commons

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