There is a gangrenous rot at the heart of modern physics. The two most successful pillars of modern physics, quantum theory and general relativity, are at loggerheads, and something has to give.
There is no clearer demonstration of this than in the study of quantum mechanics in curved spaces. Quantum mechanics works well in the flat Euclidian space in which we appear to live, but nobody knows how it fares in the curved space that general relativity predicts. And surprisingly, physicists have spent little time bothering to find out.
But today, Rossen Dandoloff from the Universite de Cergy-Pontoise, in France, takes a stab at nailing the behavior of quantum particles in the highly curved geometry of a wormhole.
His starting point is the Heisenburg Uncertainty principle, which states that you cannot know a particle’s location in space and its momentum at the same time. It is only possible to measure one or the other with any degree of certainty.
Dandoloff points out that if space is stretched so that the uncertainty in position is greater than it would otherwise be in a flat space, then the uncertainty in momentum must be less. And that means the energy of the particle must be lower too.
So a highly curved region of space must act like a potential well, pulling quantum particles toward it (since they’ll naturally move to the region with the lowest energy).
Dandoloff calls this the quantum anticentrifugal force.
A similar effect has been found for certain quantum particles in two-dimensional space, one of a number of strange forces that arise when you fiddle with the space. These forces are called quantum fictitious forces because they vary according to the dimensions of space, and so can’t arise in the real space in which the universe is embedded (at least that’s how the thinking goes).
But that raises another question: what exactly is the space in which the universe is embedded? There’s no consensus on that, and until there is, quantum physics and general relativity will continue to live in a twilight world of theoretical ambiguity where quantum forces may or may not be fictional.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0906.1209: Quantum Anticentrifugal Force for Wormhole Geometry
Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything
Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.
These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?
Perovskites are promising, but real-world conditions have held them back.
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.