Technology 3 min read

Physicists are Using Lasers to Test Quantum Gravity Theories

An international collaboration of physicists has developed a lower-energy, laser-based system for testing quantum gravity theories.

Vchal | Shutterstock.com

Vchal | Shutterstock.com

A team of physicists has proposed using a laser-based experiment to test theories related to quantum gravity.

Since Soviet scientist Matvei Bronstein pioneered its study in the 1930s, quantum gravity is still one of the most interesting unsolved mysteries of the universe.

However, Bronstein (1906-38) fell victim to Stalin’s Great Purge and was executed at a young age before he could conclude his research on quantum gravity.

Laser-based experiment to test theories of quantum gravity.Click To Tweet

Why is Quantum Gravity Hard to Crack?

The theoretical physicists after Bronstein have been attempting to come up with “theories” of quantum gravity for many decades, which they have, but there’s still no tangible conclusions.

A large community of physicists is working on different models of a quantum gravity theory, in an attempt to find a “theory of everything”, one that brings Einstein’s relativity and quantum physics together and ushers in “new physics”.

String theory is one of the most studied quantum gravity models at present. Loop quantum gravity is another theory that’s touted as a viable model of quantum gravity.

Although very promising, these theories are hard to test.

But for the phenomena of quantum gravity to manifest itself, it requires high energy scales, so that researchers can observe and study its effects.

What’s more, quantum gravity prevails at tiny length scales, close to Planck, which is about 15 orders of magnitude smaller than what is currently available at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

And while there’s no shortage of such theories, they need to be tested to get approved or ruled out.

Laser-Based Available Tech to Test Theories of Quantum Gravity

“Proposed experimental setup to probe the effects of noncommutative structure.” | S. Dey et al. ©2017 Nuclear Physics B | Phys.org

A multinational team of seven physicists has come up with a novel approach to check the predictions of quantum gravity theories without the need of very high energy scales.

If proved to be successful, this will allow physicists to devise a correct theory of quantum gravity, which would, hopefully, unify general relativity and quantum mechanics.

To get around this difficulty (Plank high scale energy and tiny length), the team focused on the property known as “non-commutativity”: a characteristic of most of the proposed variants of quantum gravity, including string theory and loop quantum gravity. Non-commutative geometry is a generalization of geometry, inspired by quantum physics, whose purpose is to study spaces mathematically.

A paper on the proposed test was published in the journal Nuclear Physics B.

The test “is within the reach of current technology and, thus,” said authors of the paper, “it could uncover a feasible route towards the realization of quantum gravitational phenomena through a simple table-top experiment.”

If quantum gravity theories are explored, which ones will yield the most interesting results? How could this be a “theory of everything” in your opinion?

Found this article interesting?

Let Zayan Guedim know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.


Profile Image

Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

Comment (1)
Most Recent most recent
You
  1. Profile Image
    Janice Tabler-Upshaw December 26 at 2:16 am GMT

    I really found this interesting and at the risk of becoming a professional student want to pursue this! I’m 53. What do you think?

1
Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.