The Quantum Structure of Space and Time: Proceedings of the 23rd Solvay Conference on Physics

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Ever since 1911, the Solvay Conferences have shaped modern physics. The 23rd edition, chaired by 2004 Nobel Laureate David Gross, did not break with that tradition. It gathered most of the leading figures working on the central problem of reconciling Einstein's theory of gravity with quantum mechanics.

These proceedings give a broad overview with unique insight into the most fundamental issues raised by this challenge for 21st century physics, by distinguished renowned scientists. The contributions cover: the status of quantum mechanics, spacetime singularities and breakdown of classical space and time, mathematical structures underlying the most promising attempts under current development, spacetime as an emergent concept, as well as cosmology and the cosmological constant puzzle. A historical overview of the Solvay conferences by historian of sciences Peter Galison opens the volume.

In the Solvay tradition, the volume also includes the discussions among the participants - many of which were quite lively and illustrate dramatically divergent points of view - carefully edited and reproduced in full.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789812569523
  • Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

The International Solvay Institutes     v
23rd Solvay Conference on Physics     ix
Opening Session     xiii
History     1
Rapporteur talk: Solvay Redivivus   Peter Galison     1
Three Miracles     1
SOLVAY -1: Einstein-Lorentz, Einstein-Poincare     6
Ignoramus, Ignorabimus at Solvays-5 and Solvay-6     10
Solvay Redivivus     15
Discussion     19
Quantum Mechanics     21
Rapporteur talk: Generalizing Quantum Mechanics   James B. Hartle     21
Abstract     21
Introduction     22
Quantum Mechanics Today     24
Spacetime and Quantum Theory     26
The Quantum Mechanics of Closed Systems     27
Quantum Theory in 3+1 Form     30
Generalized Quantum Theory     32
A Quantum Theory of Spacetime Geometry     33
Beyond Spacetime     35
Emergence/Excess Baggage     35
Emergence of Signature     38
Beyond Quantum Theory     39
Conclusion     40
Discussion     44
Singularities     51
Rapporteur talk: Singularities   Gary W. Gibbons     51
Introduction     51
Singularity Theorems     51
Cosmic Censorship     53
Classical Boundary Conditions and Stability     54
Boundary Conditions in Cosmology     55
Higher dimensional resolutions     59
Singularities at the end of Hawking Evaporation     61
Maldacena's Conjecture     61
Discussion     64
Prepared Comments     65
Gary Horowitz: Singularities in String Theory     65
Discussion     69
Prepared Comments     70
Eva Silverstein: Singularities: Closed String Tachyons and Singularities     70
Discussion     77
Prepared Comments     77
Thibault Damour: Cosmological Singularities and E[subscript 10]     77
Discussion     82
Prepared Comments     83
Abhay Ashtekar: Singularities: quantum nature of the big bang in loop quantum gravity     83
Discussion     87
Mathematical Structures     91
Rapporteur talk: Mathematical Structures   Robbert Dijkgraaf     91
Abstract     91
Quantum Theory and Mathematics     91
The quantum geometry of string theory     97
Non-perturbative string theory and branes     107
D-branes     112
The Role of Mathematics     116
Discussion     119
Prepared Comments     123
Renata Kallosh: Stabilization of moduli in string theory     123
Dieter Lust: A short remark on flux and D-brane vacua and their statistics     127
Michael Douglas: Mathematics and String Theory: Understanding the landscape     132
Discussion     140
Prepared Comments     143
Nikita Nekrasov: On string theory applications in condensed matter physics     143
Shing-Tung Yau: Mathematical Structures: Geometry of Six-Dimensional String     147
Discussion     151
Prepared Comments     153
Hermann Nicolai: E[subscript 10] and K(E[subscript 10]): prospects and challenges     153
Michael Atiyah: Beyond string theory?     157
Discussion     159
Emergent Spacetime     163
Rapporteur talk: Emergent Spacetime   Nathan Seiberg     163
Introduction     163
Ambiguous space     164
Non-standard theories without gravity     168
Derived general covariance     169
Examples of emergent space     170
Emergent time     175
Conclusions and speculations     176
Discussion     179
Prepared Comments     182
Tom Banks: The Holographic Approach to Quantum Gravity     182
Igor Klebanov: Confinement, Chiral Symmetry Breaking and String Theory     191
Juan Maldacena: Comments on emergent space-time     195
Alexander Polyakov: Beyond space-time     199
Discussion     204
Cosmology     215
Rapporteur talk: The cosmological constant and the string landscape, by Joseph Polchinski     216
The cosmological constant     216
The string landscape     225
Conclusions     233
Discussion     237
Prepared Comments     242
Steven Weinberg     242
Renata Kallosh: Inflationary models as a test of string theory     246
Andrei Linde: Eternal inflation in stringy landscape and the anthropic principle     250
Discussion     255
Paul J. Steinhardt: A modest proposal for solving the cosmological constant problem     258
Discussion     264
Closing remarks   David Gross     269
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