Jonathan Oppenheim interview: The physicist betting against quantum space-time

Jonathan Oppenheim interview: The physicist betting against quantum space-time

JONATHAN OPPENHEIM likes the occasional flutter, however the object of his curiosity is a bit more rarefied than horse racing or the one-armed bandit. A quantum physicist at College Faculty London, Oppenheim likes to make bets on the basic nature of actuality – and his newest issues space-time itself.

The 2 nice theories of physics are basically at odds. In a single nook, you could have common relativity, which says that gravity is the results of mass warping space-time, envisaged as a form of stretchy sheet. Within the different, there may be quantum principle, which explains the subatomic world and holds that each one matter and vitality is available in tiny, discrete chunks. Put them collectively and you possibly can describe a lot of actuality. The one drawback is that you could’t put them collectively: the grainy arithmetic of quantum principle and the graceful description of space-time don’t mesh.

Most physicists reckon the answer is to “quantise” gravity, or to point out how space-time is available in tiny quanta, just like the three different forces of nature. In impact, meaning tweaking common relativity so it suits into the quantum mould, a process that has occupied researchers for nearly a century already. However Oppenheim wonders if this assumption is perhaps mistaken, which is why he made a 5000:1 wager that space-time isn’t in the end quantum.

New Scientist caught up with him to search out out what makes him suppose standard knowledge is perhaps misguided right here, how the query is perhaps resolved with experiments – and why physicists love an excellent wager.

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