Constraining the Landscape of Theories of Quantum Gravity

Summary

Quantum mechanics and general relativity are two fundamental building blocks in our
understanding of physics. However, merging them into a unified theory of quantum
gravity remains one of the great challenges of modern physics. This puzzle must be
resolved to fully understand the beginning of our universe or the black holes that we
observe in the sky.

I propose to address this challenge by utilizing the powerful framework of the AdS/CFT
correspondence where every conformal field theory gives a non-perturbative definition of
quantum gravity. My previous breakthroughs in this area put me in an excellent position
to use AdS/CFT to identify the conformal field theories that reproduce appropriate low-energy
gravitational physics. My ultimate goal is to understand what classical theories of
gravity can be consistently quantized.

My research project has two main outcomes:

(1) To give a list of the minimal criteria that ensure that the low-energy description of
the quantum gravity theory is given by general relativity coupled to matter. This will be
accomplished by imposing that a set of field theory observables reproduce universal
behaviours expected from Einstein gravity. These include both perturbative aspects of
the gravitational theory such as vacuum scattering amplitudes and non-perturbative
properties associated to black hole physics.

(2) To identify, from the space of all conformal field theories, all theories that can satisfy
the aforementioned constraints. A key ingredient in this procedure will be to understand
the importance of modular invariance for conformal field theories in arbitrary dimensions.
In particular, I propose to initiate a conformal bootstrap programme in higher dimensions
and systematically investigate the constraints implied on the spectrum.

Details

Project number

680-47-464

Main applicant

Dr. A.M.F. Belin

Affiliated with

Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica, Instituut voor Theoretische Fysica (ITFA)

Duration

01/09/2017 to 31/08/2020