Relativity and the Quantum / Elementary Tour: Conclusion

The combination of relativity and quantum theory has led to some of the greatest triumphs of theoretical physics, but also to its most persistent unsolved questions. The marriage of special relativity and quantum concepts leads to so-called relativistic ...

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Relativity and the Quantum / Elementary Tour part 5: Superstrings and universal harmony

If you go by the number of researchers involved in it, string theory is the most actively studied candidate for a theory of quantum gravity. String theory is descended from the ordinary models of particle physics, but with a crucial difference: Its basic ...

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Relativity and the Quantum / Elementary Tour part 4: Loop quantum gravity

From the point of view of Einstein´s theory, it comes as no surprise that all attempts to treat gravity simply like one more quantum force (on par with electromagnetism and the nuclear forces) have failed. According to Einstein, gravity is not a force – it ...

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Relativity and the Quantum / Elementary Tour part 3: The need for quantum gravity

So far in the pages of Elementary Einstein, we have encountered two examples in which the limits of general relativity were reached. Both cases involved space-time-singularities. The first example lurked in the interior of a black hole. As briefly described ...

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Relativity and the Quantum / Elementary Tour part 2: Evaporating black holes?

Can the concepts of relativistic quantum field theory be carried over to curved space-times, which include gravitational sources and are described by general relativity? The answer is a cautious "yes". The most notable step in this direction was taken by the ...

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General relativity / Elementary Tour part 4: The light side of gravity

For the propagation of light, Einstein's theory makes a clear prediction: Light is deflected by gravity. Just as test particles move on the straightest-possible lines in curved space-time (i.e. on space-time geodesics), so does light. The most basic example: ...

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Gravitational waves / Elementary tour part 1: The rhythm of geometry

Distortions of geometry: what does that mean? First of all, distances shrink and expand in a certain coordinated way. That's the main mechanism by which gravitational waves act on the rest of the world: they rhythmically distort distances between freely ...

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General relativity / Elementary Tour part 1: Einstein’s geometric gravity

The key idea of Einstein's theory of general relativity is that gravity is not an ordinary force, but rather a property of space-time geometry. The following simplified analogy, which substitutes a two-dimensional surface for four-dimensional space-time, ...

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