Three Roads to Quantum Gravity
by Lee Smolin
The Holy Grail of modern physics is the search for a 'quantum gravity' view of the universe that unites Einstein's general relativity with quantum ... Show synopsis The Holy Grail of modern physics is the search for a 'quantum gravity' view of the universe that unites Einstein's general relativity with quantum theory. Until recently, these two foundational pillars of modern science have seemed incompatible: relativity deals exclusively with the universe at the large scale (planets, solar systems and galaxies), whereas quantum theory is restricted to the domain of the very small (molecules, atoms, electrons). Here, Lee Smolin provides the first accessible overview of current attempts to reconcile these two theories. Some of these approaches view the world as a hologram; others hold that basic particles must be string-like; others still draw on the physics of black holes. Smolin believes that each of these different approaches may be partially right, although he contends that none on its own is likely to be the whole truth. Nevertheless, he says, there are signs that they are beginning to converge on a final theory. Written with wit and style, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity provides a brief introduction to modern concepts of space and time. It touches on some of the deepest questions about the nature of the universe - are space and time continuous or infinitely divisible? Is there a limit to how small things can be? - while speculating on what developments we can expect at the frontiers of physics in the twenty-first century.