By Jishnu Bhattacharyya, Mattia Colombo and Thomas Sotiriou.
Black holes are perhaps the most fascinating predictions of General Relativity (GR). Yet, their very existence (conventionally) hinges on Special Relativity (SR), or more precisely on local Lorentz symmetry. This symmetry is the local manifestation of the causal structure of GR and it dictates that the speed of light is finite and the maximal speed attainable. Accepting also that light gravitates, one can then intuitively arrive at the conclusion that black holes should exist — as John Michell already did in 1783!
One can reverse the argument: does accepting that black holes exist, as astronomical observations and the recent gravitational wave direct detections strongly suggest, imply that Lorentz symmetry is an exact symmetry of nature? In other words, is this ground breaking prediction of GR the ultimate vindication of SR?
Jishnu Bhattacharyya, Mattia Colombo and Thomas Sotiriou from the School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham.
These questions might seem ill-posed if one sees GR simply as a generalisation of SR to non-inertial observers. On the same footing, one might consider questioning Lorentz symmetry as a step backwards altogether. Yet, there is an alternative perspective. GR taught us that our theories should be expressible in a covariant language and that there is a dynamical metric that is responsible for the gravitational interaction. Universality of free fall implies that Continue reading
One of the authors, Ian Jubb, discussing a pair of trousers with his colleagues at Imperial College London. Ian Jubb is currently the PhD student of Fay Dowker in the Theoretical Physics group at Imperial College London.
by Ian Jubb and Michel Buck.
Did you know that Quantum Gravity literally sets pants on fire?
Your pants are not just a nifty garment, they are also a perfect example of a space undergoing a process known as topology change. Take a space that initially consists of two separate circles. If they were to meet and merge into a single circle, the topology of the space would have changed. The trousers allow us to visualise each stage of this process, with cross sections higher up the trouser leg corresponding to later times in the process (if we hold the trousers upside-down, we get the reverse process, corresponding to a single circle splitting into two circles). Instead of viewing this process as the space changing in time, Einstein would tell us to view the trousers in their entirety, as one whole spacetime — the trousers spacetime.
But why should we care about spaces that can ‘split’ and ’attach’ like this? It turns out that there are good reasons to believe that Continue reading
Netta Engelhardt (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Sebastian Fischetti (Imperial College) gave us an insight into their communication methods whilst collaborating for their research paper recently published in CQG.
On a dark London evening and a sunny California day — January 19, 2016, to be precise — Netta sent Sebastian a Skype message:
So began a new project for this dynamic duo, published recently in CQG. Unlike our previous project, this one presented a new challenge (with which researchers are all too familiar): we were separated by an eight-hour time difference. Thus began a three-way collaboration: Netta, Sebastian, and Skype (with the third member being the least cooperative).
The process began Continue reading
Read the full article for free* in Classical and Quantum Gravity:
Local and gauge invariant observables in gravity
Igor Khavkine 2015 Class. Quantum Grav. 32 185019
Generalized locality leads to lots of observables in gravity
Igor Khavkine is finishing up his term as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Trento, Italy. His main interests are mathematical aspects of classical and quantum field theory, with an emphasis on gravity.
The problem of observables in general relativity is essentially as old as the theory itself. Einstein’s guiding principle of “general covariance”, that is, explicit tensorial transformation of basic physical fields and their equations under general coordinate transformations, leads to a formulation of the theory with “gauge” degrees of freedom. Those are degrees of freedom that, simply speaking, don’t contain any physical information and can be arbitrarily altered by the application of a coordinate transformation or, more abstractly, a diffeomorphism. Such a formulation is simple and Continue reading
Gauge-gravity duality allows us to calculate properties of certain quantum field theories (QFT) from classical general relativity. One famous piece of this conjecture, due to Ryu and Takayanagi, relates the entanglement entropy in a QFT region to the area of a surface in the gravitational theory. In addition to being a clue about quantum gravity, this proposal is one of the few tools which allow us to calculate entanglement entropy analytically. Since the entanglement entropy is of increasing interest for field theory and condensed matter applications, it is important to check if the conjecture is true.
One important property of the entropy is strong subadditivity (SSA). This quantum inequality says that the sum of the entropies in two regions is always greater than the sum of the entropies of their union and intersection. My article uses proof Continue reading
Alexander (right) is a PhD student in the department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. Robert (left), a past-president of the Canadian Association of Physicists, is a senior professor in the department of Physics & Astronomy and the department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo and an affiliate at the Perimeter Institute.
Could a quantum detector peek inside a black hole?
It has long been known that the thermal radiation emitted by a black hole can be detected by a particle detector, and even today the details of this process are an active area of research. But are such detectors sensitive to the interior structure of black holes? From a classical perspective, conventional wisdom would suggest not: the topological censorship theorem relegates all isolated topological structures (such as wormholes, topological knots, etc) to be hidden behind a horizon and thus inaccessible to observers by classical probes. But Continue reading