02 July 2008

Interesting Quantum Gravity Paper

Eyo Eyo Ita III, a man in his 40s studying for his PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge after grauating from a U.S. Naval College, who appears to be the grandson of one of the pivotal figures in the Nigerian independence movement, has published an interesting pre-print of an ambitious quantum gravity paper that appears to be his dissertation. Essentially, he claims to have a quantum gravity derivation of a close approximation to classical general relativity worked out.

In its classical form general relativity is fundmentally inconsistent with quantum mechanics, although, in practice, the inconsistencies that arise from trying to merge the two core theories of modern physics usually seem to manifest under conditions of no practical engineering or observational importance.

As I've discussed before, a quantum theory of gravity is something of a Holy Grail in theoretical physics, even if it produces no interesting new phenomenological predictions (although to be meaningful, the difference between a classical and quantum theory must be more than semantic). This paper has not yet been peer reviewed at this point (although another paper by the same author on a related subjet has been approved for publication in a scholarly journal) and honestly, is likely to amount to nothing directly, but is notable because it is more ambitious than most papers by people who have legitimate training in the field. Quantum gravity researchers have been taking baby steps towards goals like this paper for decades.

Ito's writing style is certainly superior to the average physicist, without departing from established conventions for scholarly physics papers or addressing himself to a layman. He is a master of using seemingly vague words in a precise way. He sets forth his thesis with remarkable economy without losing the reader's attention, by knowing what has to be said and what can be assumed to be known by his chosen audience of professional theoretical physicists in the field, and he more clearly outlines his approach up front than most physicists. If his theories don't pan out, he has a sound future for himself as a technical writing editor.

Ito's treatment is primarily mathematical, with phenomenological predictions from the theory mostly reserved for future papers. The only notable distinction of the theory mentioned in the paper, aside from the fact that it works, is that it suggests from first principals why the cosmological constant should be so small, a constant problem in quantum theories that have tried to explain the cosmological constant (i.e. dark energy) as a function of zero point energy in the vacuum.

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