Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Experiments Show Gravity Is Not an Emergent Phenomenon

The way gravity effects quantum particles proves that it cannot be an emergent phenomenon, says physicist.

One of the most exciting ideas in modern physics is that gravity is not a traditional force, like electromagnetic or nuclear forces. Instead, it is an emergent phenomenon that merely looks like a traditional force.

This approach has been championed by Erik Verlinde at the University of Amsterdam who put forward the idea in 2010. He suggested that gravity is merely a manifestation of entropy in the Universe, which always increases according to the second law of thermodynamics. This causes matter distribute itself in a way that maximises entropy. And the effect of this redistribution looks like a force which we call gravity.

Much of the excitement over Verlinde’s idea is that it provides a way to reconcile the contradictions between gravity, which works on a large scale, and quantum mechanics, which works on a tiny scale.

The key idea is that gravity is essentially a statistical effect. As long as each particle is influenced by a statistically large number of other particles, gravity emerges. That’s why it’s a large-scale phenomenon.

But today, Archil Kobakhidze at The University of Melbourne in Australia points to a serious problem with this approach. He naturally asks how gravity can influence quantum particles.

Kobakhidze argues that since each quantum particle must be described by a large number of other particles, this leads to a particular equation that describes the effect of gravity.

But here’s the thing: the conventional view of gravity leads to a different equation.

In other words, the emergent and traditional views of gravity make different predictions about the gravitational force a quantum particle ought to experience. And that opens the way for an experimental test.

As it happens, physicists have been measuring the force of gravity on neutrons for ten yeas or so. And…wait for the drum roll… the results exactly match the predictions of traditional gravitational theory, says Kobakhidze.

“Experiments on gravitational bound states of neutrons unambiguously disprove the entropic origin of gravitation,” he says.

That’s an impressive piece of physics. It’ll be interesting to see how Verlinde and his supporters respond.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1108.4161: Once More: Gravity Is Not An Entropic Force

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

The way forward: Merging IT and operations

Digital transformation in any industry begins with bridging the gap between two traditionally separate teams.

Investing in people is key to successful transformation

People-related factors like talent attraction and retention and clear top-down communication will determine whether your transformation progresses or stalls.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.