Quantum gravity physics based on facts, giving checkable predictions

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Penrose’s Perimeter Institute lecture is interesting: ‘Are We Due for a New Revolution in Fundamental Physics?’

Penrose suggests quantum gravity will come from modifying quantum field theory to make it compatible with general relativity.

I like the questions at the end where Penrose is asked about the ‘funnel’ spatial pictures of blackholes, and points out they’re misleading illustrations, since you’re really dealing with spacetime not a hole or distortion in 2 dimensions. The funnel picture really shows a 2-d surface distorted into 3 dimensions, where in reality you have a 3-dimensional surface distorted into 4 dimensional spacetime. In his essay on general relativity in the book It Must Be Beautiful, Penrose writes:

‘… when there is matter present in the vicinity of the deviating geodesics, the volume reduction is proportional to the total mass that is surrounded by the geodesics. This volume reduction is an average of the geodesic deviation in all directions … Thus, we need an appropriate entity that measures such curvature averages. Indeed, there is such an entity, referred to as the Ricci tensor …’

Feynman discussed this simply as a reduction in radial distance around a mass of (1/3)MG/c^2 = 1.5 mm for Earth. It’s such a shame that the physical basics of general relativity are not taught, and the whole thing gets abstruse. The curved space or 4-d spacetime description is needed to avoid Pi varying due to gravitational contraction of radial distances but not circumferences.


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