Metric signature transitions and the cosmological constant

PIRSA ID: 23100076
Series: Quantum Gravity
Event Type: Seminar
Scientific Area(s):
Quantum Gravity
End date:
  • Steffen Gielen, University of Sheffield

In classical relativity we usually think of the metric signature as fixed, but quantum cosmology already forces us to consider more general situations such as transitions from Riemannian to Lorentzian signature. I will discuss the less studied phenomenon of an overall "flip" where all metric components change sign simultaneously (e.g., from "East Coast" to "West Coast" signature). Such an overall flip can represent saddle point solutions in quantum cosmology, or appear classically in the Plebański formalism or even a slight extension of Einstein--Hilbert gravity. Interestingly, at such a transition the cosmological constant can change both sign and magnitude, with a pure sign change being the most minimalistic proposal. Cosmological solutions transitioning classically between de Sitter and anti de Sitter can be found immediately, and the quantisation of a minisuperspace model turns out to be simpler than in the fixed signature case: in particular, the gravitational action reduces to a pure boundary term. Various other applications and the relation to unimodular gravity are also discussed.


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