From the Hamiltonian formalism to the Spin-Foams: The final step in LQG?

Marin, Diego (2010) From the Hamiltonian formalism to the Spin-Foams: The final step in LQG? PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Already in ancient Greece, the pre-Socratic philosophers thought that natural phenomena, although different, were homogeneous, of the same fundamental nature. In their theories can be found the search for a common reference point (arché) that puts order in the chaotic multiplicity of phenomena. After Albert Einstein’s theory of gravitation (General Relativity -GR-) was published in 1915, the search for a unified field theory that combines gravity with electromagnetism began to become serious. It seemed plausible that there were no other fundamental forces. The main contributors were Gunnar Nordstrom, Hermann Weyl, Arthur Eddington, Theodor Kaluza, Oskar Klein (See Theory of Kaluza-Klein, 1921) and most notably the many attempts by Einstein and his collaborators. No attempt went through. In the first half of the twentieth century quantum mechanics was consolidated, an instrument capable of overcoming the inadequacy of classical mechanics to explain phenomena and properties such as blackbody radiation, the photoelectric effect, the specific heat of solids, the atomic spectra, the stability of atoms, the Compton effect, .... When in the thirties Fermi and Yukawa ’s studies led to the discovery of nuclear forces, the quantum formalism proved to be appropriate for the description of the new phenomena and, in 1967-68, Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam showed how the weak nuclear force and the electromagnetism were simply different manifestations of the same force (electroweak). Since then, proposals have been done to include in a single grand unification theory also the strong nuclear force, and some of them (GTU SU(5) and SO(10)) have provided testable predictions as the quantization of electric charge. At classical level there is an extension of the Kaluza-Klein theory on a 11-dimensional space M4 × S1 × S2 × CP2. It corresponds to Einstein’s General Relativity with 7 extra dimensions, and considers all four forces as different expressions of a “mega” gravitational field. The forces are unified at the classical level but, once quantized, the theory turns out to be inconsistent and therefore unusable. This is because the nuclear forces have range of 10−15 m for strong force and of 10−18 m for weak force, distances at which classical physics loses its meaning. Ultimately, it seems that quantum mechanics is compatible with electroweak and strong interactions only if we limit ourselves to spaces of dimensionality less than or equal to 4. In addition, it is inconsistent with General Relativity for spaces with more of 3 dimensions. For these reasons, the theory of Kaluza-Klein fails doubly. Really, the incompatibility is not between general relativity and quantum mechanics in its entirety, but rather between General Relativity and the method of calculation used in quantum mechanics: perturbative expansion whose terms, in the cases indicted above, become . To get around this problem two different approaches have been taken: String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity. The first has completely changed the wording of quantum theory, from considering local interactions, where the phenomena occur at specific points (of Feynman graphs), to interactions “extended”, where the phenomena are distributed along one limited dimension (string), open or closed. This system has eliminated the divergences in the terms of perturbative expansion, but has developed other anomalies, eliminated only by building up the theory on a space of 11 dimensions. Unfortunately, the extra dimensions introduce a huge number of arbitrariness, such as the theory can predict everything and nothing. The scientific community hopes to identify some potential whose minimum make a selection between these arbitrariness, but we are still far from such a result. The alternative discussed in this thesis is the Loop Quantum Gravity. This is simply the union of GR and quantum mechanics, without modifying the basic axioms of both. It can be made only in spaces of dimensionality equal to 4 and it surrenders completely the perturbative expansion. This produces fascinating predictions, such as the inflation of early universe, and the lack of singularities in the black holes and in the big bang. It also provides the picture of a “combinatorial” universe, described by nodes connected by paths, whose only necessary variables are integer numbers associated with nodes and paths. This last point in particular escapes the string theory which, whilst losing the locality, is however concentrated within the “very small”. The Loop Quantum Gravity, by contrast, is able to describe the universe as a whole, and to deal with transitions between universes of different topology. The downside is that the calculations are so complex that they are impracticable. Strategies have been developed to introduce a different perturbative expansion that makes the calculations feasible, but this introduces important changes to the initial structure of the theory, in a way that eliminate the beautiful cosmological predictions. Nevertheless, we tried to calculate the graviton propagator in this new “modified framework”, and the result is compatible with linearized quantum GR . For this reason, this framework has not been abandoned. It also seems that this formalism can easily be extended to include extra-dimensions and adapted to the unified theory of Kaluza Klein. This thesis has been developed in an attempt to contribute to the desire for simplification and connection to the essence that has always been in the natural sciences. In particular, it was given a demonstration of how the ”modified framework” of Loop Quantum Gravity is derivable from a classical formulation of the GR of Palatini type. Finally, we give suggestions for extending the model to 11 dimensions, because 11 is the number suggested by String theory, by the classical theory of Kaluza Klein, and by the GTU SO(10). Probably the truth lies somewhere in between, maybe an action of a 4-dimensional brane immersed in a 11-dimensional universe would be the right compromise between String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity. A 4-dimensional brane represents our universe, and any contact with other branes of a much smaller scale put small pieces of it in vibration. Depending on the number of dimensions in which contact is, the part could be a vibrating string or a two- or three-brane (with probability decreasing rapidly moving from string to the three-brane). So, we even lose the distinction between the notions of particles and universes, making the first totally unnecessary. The action of a 4-brane is equivalent to the action of Loop Quantum Gravity, with the coordinate-fields which assume the role of gauge fields, and the indexes in the 11-dimensional space that would become similar to the indexes of internal gauge. This thesis focuses on two specific problems: the calculation of the graviton propagator in Loop Quantum Gravity and the derivation of the “modified framework” from the Palatini formulation of GR (Chapter 8). While the first it was simply supported with a minimum contribution, the second is a problem undertaken by the student in a completely independent way that, while waiting for more in-depth audits, has not yet shown any inconsistency and for now can be hailed a success. A small space is reserved for some inedited consideration undertaken by the student on the “physical” projector. This operator is intended to project the Hilbert space of kinematic states in the subspace of physical states. The conclusion of the argument is simple and somewhat disturbing: the Loop Quantum Gravity is not an unitary theory!

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Physics
Subjects:Area 02 - Scienze fisiche > FIS/02 FISICA TEORICA, MODELLI E METODI MATEMATICI
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