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Judi Lynn

(159,915 posts)
Wed Dec 6, 2023, 04:36 AM Dec 6

New theory may finally unite Einstein's gravity with the quantum world [View all]

Story by Christopher McFadden •

In two papers published simultaneously by Univesity College London (UCL), physicists may have finally devised a theory that could unify Einstein's theory of gravity with the strange world of quantum mechanics. If the theory is correct, it could solve one of the last centuries' trickiest problems regarding our understanding of the universe's workings and the nature of matter.

A century-long problem solved?
The foundation of modern physics rests upon two fundamental theories: quantum theory and Einstein's theory of general relativity. Quantum theory governs the behavior of the smallest particles in the universe, while the theory of general relativity explains gravity through the curvature of spacetime. However, these two theories have conflicted for over a century, and a resolution to their contradiction has yet to be found.

Many scientists believe that Einstein's theory of gravity needs to be modified or "quantized" to fit into the framework of quantum theory. Two of the most prominent contenders for a quantum theory of gravity are "string theory" and "loop quantum gravity."

However, according to a new paper in Physical Review X (PRX) by Professor Jonathan Oppenheim from UCL's Physics & Astronomy department, the widely accepted idea that spacetime is governed by quantum theory may not be accurate. Oppenheim proposes an alternative approach in his paper, suggesting that spacetime may be classical instead of quantum, thereby challenging the current consensus.


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