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What This Drawing Taught Me About Four-Dimensional Spacetime - Issue 46: Balance

What This Drawing Taught Me About Four-Dimensional Spacetime - Issue 46: Balance Read full article

16 March 2017, 7:00 am
Pocket

nautil.us


My aim as a theoretical physicist is to unite quantum theory with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. While there are a few proposals for this unification, such as string theory and loop quantum gravity, many roadblocks to a complete unification remain.

Einstein’s theory tells us the gravitational force is a direct manifestation of space and time bending. The sun bends the fabric of space, much like a sleeping person bends a mattress. Planetary orbits, including Earth’s, are motion along the contours of the bent space created by the sun. This theory provides some critical insights into the nature of light.

As I gazed at the drawing, I could feel the artists challenging me to reconsider the nature of light.

Quantum mechanics, however, says many weird things about physical reality. For instance, our experience is to occupy a single region of space. But when a quantum particle moves through space, it considers all paths at the same time, as if many copies of the particle coexisted at the same time.

For years I have been stuck in my research, unable to make the progress I envisioned early in my career. Notably, quantum mechanics carefully takes the role of the observer into the structure…
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