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Physics Colloquia 293 (2/15/19)

February 15, 2019 - 10:30am

Eva Silverstein, Stanford


Theaccelerated expansion of the universe demands a more complete framework for quantum gravity, and offers new observational handles on high energy physics. After summarizing the basic observations and theoretical implications, I will explain some recent developments. In string theory, metastable accelerated expansion plausibly results from an interplay of highly structured energy sources. The resulting de Sitter geometry contains horizons, which play a key role in seeding structure, while raising basic conceptual questions. The anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory duality, which formulates quantum gravity in terms of quantum field theory, does not directly apply. We show how it can be upgraded in a way that preserves some essential features, leading to a statistical interpretation of the Gibbons-Hawking horizon entropy in terms of an entanglement entropy in the dual description. Moving from thought experiments back to empirical observations, we provide some new examples of observational probes of high energy physics in the early universe, taking into account the potential landscape and strong nonlinearities that can build up in cosmology.

Flyer File: silverstein_eva_physics_flyer.pdf