Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Quantum Gravity

Quantum Gravity: Motivations and Alternatives
The mutual conceptual incompatibility between GR and QM/QFT is generally seen as the most essential motivation for the development of a theory of Quantum Gravity (QG). It leads to the insight that, if gravity is a fundamental interaction and QM is universally valid, the gravitational field will have to be quantized, not at least because of the inconsistency of semi-classical theories of gravity. If this means to quantize GR, its identification of the gravitational field with the spacetime metric has to be taken into account. And the resulting quantum theory has to be background-independent. This can not be achieved by means of quantum field theoretical procedures. More sophisticated strategies have to be applied. One of the basic requirements for such a quantization strategy is that the resulting quantum theory has GR as a classical limit. - However, should gravity not be a fundamental, but an residual, emergent interaction, it could very well be an intrinsically classical phenomenon. Should QM be nonetheless universally valid, we had to assume a quantum substrate from which gravity would result as an emergent classical phenomenon. And there would be no conflict with the arguments against semi-classical theories, because there would be no gravity at all on the substrate level. The gravitational field would not have any quantum properties, and a quantization of GR would not lead to any fundamental theory. The objective of a theory of 'QG' would instead be the identification of the quantum substrate from which gravity results. - The paper tries to give an overview over the main options for theory construction in the field of QG. Because of the still unclear status of gravity and spacetime, it pleads for the necessity of a plurality of conceptually different approaches to QG.

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