Despite its importance in general relativity, a quantum notion of general covariance has not yet been established in quantum gravity and cosmology, where, given the a priori absence of coordinates, it is necessary to replace classical frames with dynamical quantum reference systems. As such, quantum general covariance bears on the ability to consistently switch between the descriptions of the same physics relative to arbitrary choices of quantum reference system. Recently, a systematic approach for such switches has been developed. It links the descriptions relative to different choices of quantum reference system, identified as the correspondingly reduced quantum theories, via the reference-system-neutral Dirac quantization, in analogy to coordinate changes on a manifold. In this work, we apply this method to a simple cosmological model to demonstrate how to consistently switch between different internal time choices in quantum cosmology. We substantiate the argument that the conjunction of Dirac and reduced quantized versions of the theory defines a complete relational quantum theory that not only admits a quantum general covariance, but, we argue, also suggests a new perspective on the ‘wave function of the universe’. It assumes the role of a perspective-neutral global state, without immediate physical interpretation that, however, encodes all the descriptions of the universe relative to all possible choices of reference system at once and constitutes the crucial link between these internal perspectives. While, for simplicity, we use the Wheeler-DeWitt formulation, the method and arguments might be also adaptable to loop quantum cosmology.
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