Lessons from black holes -- Equations of motion, scales & effective coupling of quantum gravity

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We use black holes to understand some basic properties of theories of quantum gravity. First, we apply ideas from black hole physics to the physics of accelerated observers to show that the equations of motion of generalized theories of gravity are equivalent to the thermodynamic relation $\delta Q = T \delta S$. Our proof relies on extending previous arguments by using a more general definition of the Noether charge entropy. We have thus completed the implementation of Jacobson's proposal to express Einstein's equations as a thermodynamic equation of state. Additionally, we find that the Noether charge entropy obeys the second law of thermodynamics if the energy momentum tensor obeys the null energy condition. Our results support the idea that gravitation on a macroscopic scale is a manifestation of the thermodynamics of the vacuum. Then, we show that the existence of semiclassical black holes of size as small as a minimal length scale l_{UV} implies a bound on a gravitational analogue of 't-Hooft's coupling $\lambda_G(l)\equiv N(l) G_N/l^2$ at all scales $l \ge l_{UV}$. The proof is valid for any metric theory of gravity that consistently extends Einstein's gravity and is based on two assumptions about semiclassical black holes: i) that they emit as black bodies, and ii) that they are perfect quantum emitters. The examples of higher dimensional gravity and of weakly coupled string theory are used to explicitly check our assumptions and to verify that the proposed bound holds. Finally, we discuss some consequences of the bound for theories of quantum gravity in general and for string theory in particular.