This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
Should we revisit the concept of space solely based on quantum mechanics?
Do we need a radically new physical principle to address the problem of quantum gravity?
In this talk I will adress these questions. I will review what are the central challenges one faces when trying to understand the theory of quantum gravity from first principles and focus on the main one which is non-locality.
I will present a collection of results and ideas that have been developed in the recent years that provides a radical new perspective on these issues.
Dark energy, the driver of the accelerated expansion of the universe, remains a conundrum. New physics may well be needed to explain it; from Lorentz invariance, this new physics should contain scalar fields, which should be straightforward to detect — so where are they? Physicists have now realized that scalar fields can hide from detection by three distinct screening mechanisms, which respectively rely on nonlinear features in the scalar’s kinetic energy, potential energy, or coupling to normal matter.
Fault-tolerant quantum computers will compute by applying
a sequence of elementary unitary operations, or gates, to an
error-protected subspace. While algorithms are typically expressed
over arbitrary local gates, there is unfortunately no known theory
that can correct errors for a continuous set of quantum gates.
However, theory does support the fault-tolerant construction of
various finite gate sets, which in some cases generate circuits that
100 years after the existence of gravitational waves was first postulated by Albert Einstein, the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations detected gravitational waves for the first time on September 14, 2015. The gravitational waves originated from a pair of black holes that merged over one billion years ago. The merger was so powerful that it shook the very fabric of space and sent a ripple across the Universe that we observed here on Earth at present day.
Recent developments in our understanding of black hole evaporation and the information paradox suggest that effects from quantum gravity are not necessarily hidden at the Planck scale. They might even one day be testable by gravitational wave measurements. To prepare ourselves, we must first understand what quantum gravity really means. Thankfully, we are pre-armed with a deep principle about gravity—that spacetime is really a hologram—and a powerful model for making this idea precise: gauge/gravity duality.
Entanglement is both a central feature of quantum mechanics and a powerful tool for studying quantum systems. Even empty spacetime is a highly entangled state, and this entanglement has the potential to explain puzzling thermodynamic properties of black holes. In order to apply the methods of quantum information theory to problems in gravity we have to confront a more fundamental question: what is a local subsystem, and what are its physical degrees of freedom?
Winds are driven by the gradients of solar heating. Vertical gradients cause thermal convection on the scale of the troposphere depth (less than 10 km). Horizontal gradients excite motions on a planetary (10000 km) and smaller scales. Weather is mostly determined by the flows at intermediate scale (hundreds of kilometers). Where these flows get their energy from? The puzzle is that three-dimensional small-scale motions cannot transfer energy to larger scales while large-scale planar motions cannot transfer energy to smaller scales.
What are the bounds of the AdS/CFT correspondence? Which quantities in conformal field theory have simple descriptions in terms of classical anti-de Sitter spacetime geometry? These foundational questions in holography may be meaningfully addressed via the study of CFT correlation functions, which map to amplitudes in AdS. I will show that a basic building block in any CFT -- the conformal block -- is equivalent to an elegant geometric object in AdS, which moreover greatly streamlines and clarifies calculations of AdS amplitudes.