The biggest problem in theoretical physics today is the marriage between Quantum Mechanics and Gravity. Throw in the fact that whatever theory comes out of it has to additionally be able to explain Dark Matter and Dark Energy, and we have ourselves a massive problem to solve. How do we reconcile the seemingly random probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics with the smooth, pliable space-time of General Relativity. We have two incredible theories that explain the Universe, make predictions accurately, and have led to amazing advances in technology and understanding, yet they completely disagree with each other at common scales.
So how do we marry these two theories? How do we find a theory that explains all of the observations that prove Quantum Mechanics (QM) and General Relativity (GR). A new paper published by Stuart Marongwe from the Physics Department of McConnell College in Botswana claims to have found such a theory.
Disclaimer: It’s about to get very Physics-y.
The theory is called Nexus, and is a variation of the standard model of particle Physics, wherein the Graviton, a theorized particle that carries gravitational information similar to the photon as a carrier of electromagnetic information, is altered and thought of as more than just a messenger particle. In the theory, the nexus graviton emerges as a boson of Spin-2 that induces rotational motion of any particle within its confines. It also represents a ‘globule of vacuum energy’ that can merge and un-merge with others, similar to Cytokinesis in Biology, although on a much smaller scale. If the merged high energy graviton emits the lowest energy graviton, the high energy graviton expands as it assumes a low energy state. This process manifests as what we call dark energy.
Okay crazy Physics-y stuff is done, but here’s a link to the paper if you want more.
I admit that this stuff is far beyond my understanding of mathematics and Physics, besides the fact that I’ve always been more of an experimentalist myself. Still, it’s important to have theorists working on problems like this as it gives observational astronomers and experimental particle physicists an idea of where to look next. The downside to the theories of today are that they are sometimes decades away from being testable in terms of technology. Theories like this Nexus idea and String Theory can predict what we already see, but so can QM and GR. The trick to proving or disproving the theories comes in with the extreme cases, which are the ones that QM and GR can’t properly predict.
If the new theories can hold where the others break apart, they will take the place of the old ones. Relativity did this when it dethroned Newton’s law of Gravitation. Newton’s theory works for the world we see, but General Relativity predicted things it could not, such as the orbit of Mercury. The best part is that General Relativity becomes Newton’s for cases where smaller human-sized objects are involved. This is the beautiful part of the theory. It explains all of the basics AND the advanced parts too.
So any theory claiming to explain the depths of the Universe, if it can be proven, will give us incredible predicting power for how our universe actually behaves. I sincerely hope we are advancing toward this goal, and that we discover a new theory which can explain everything we observe before the end of my life. As I reach my third decade of life, I’ve already seen amazing advances in Science, and I am excited for how much further we can push beyond our current limits.