Can we reconcile gravity & quantum mechanics? A story of apples, oranges & omelettes

16 10/2014

Thursday, 16 Oct. 2014, 11:30 - 13:00

Presenter: Philip C.E. Stamp; Pacific Institute of Theoretical Physics, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Host: M. Aspelmeyer
Where: Kurt-Goedl-HS, EG, Boltzmanngasse 5, 1090 Wien

Our understanding of gravity has changed enormously since the first ideas of Aristotle – to the point where Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (GR) has become one of the two cornerstones of modern physics. Despite making quite outlandish predictions, it has always been vindicated, and is the foundation of modern astronomy and cosmology. Unfortunately it clashes with our other great theory, Quantum Mechanics (QM), which has also never been falsified.

This colloquium will briefly recount the extraordinary story of GR, now 99 years old, including some of its amazing successes and its philosophical underpinnings. I will then describe the contradictions that exist between GR and QM, even at the level of ordinary table-top experiments; and argue that the only way to reconcile these contradictions is in a theory wherein gravity itself causes the breakdown of QM. This “Correlated Worldline” theory is then described, and how it will modify our ideas about spacetime and about QM, along with some concrete experiments that could test it.