Classical and quantum modifications of gravity

Kimpton, Ian (2013) Classical and quantum modifications of gravity. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Einstein’s General Relativity has been our best theory of gravity for nearly a century, yet we know it cannot be the final word. In this thesis, we consider modifications to General Relativity, motivated by both high and low energy physics.

In the quantum realm, we focus on Horava gravity, a theory which breaks Lorentz invariance in order to obtain good ultraviolet physics by adding higher spatial derivatives to the action (improving propagator behaviour in loops) but not temporal (avoiding Ostrogradski ghosts). By using the Stückelberg trick, we demonstrate the necessity of introducing a Lorentz violating scale into the theory, far below the Planck scale, to evade strong coupling concerns. Using this formalism we then show explicitly that Horava gravity breaks the Weak Equivalence Principle, for which there are very strict experimental bounds. Moving on to considering matter in such theories, we construct DiffF(M) invariant actions for both scalar and gauge fields at a classical level, before demonstrating that they are only consistent with the Equivalence Principle in the case that they reduce to their covariant form. This motivates us to consider the size of Lorentz violating effects induced by loop corrections of Horava gravity coupled to a Lorentz invariant matter sector. Our analysis reveals potential light cone fine tuning problems, in addition to evidence that troublesome higher order time derivatives may be generated.

At low energies, we demonstrate a class of theories which modify gravity to solve the cosmological constant problem. The mechanism involves a composite metric with the square root of its determinant a total derivative or topological invariant, thus ensuring pieces of the action proportional to the volume element do not contribute to the dynamics. After demonstrating general properties of the proposal, we work through a specific example, demonstrating freedom from Ostrogradski ghosts at quadratic order (in the action) on maximally symmetric backgrounds. We go on to demonstrate sufficient conditions for a theory in this class to share a solution space equal to that of Einstein’s equations plus a cosmological constant, before determining the cosmology these extra solutions may have when present.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Padilla, A.
Copeland, E.
Green, A.
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics > QC170 Atomic physics. Constitution and properties of matter
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Item ID: 13430
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 10:01
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 01:47

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