Thursday, April 5, 2012
201 E. Bridge
Physics Research Conference
Dark Energy, Dark Matter and the Emergence of Gravity
Erik Verlinde, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Amsterdam/KITP
Insights from black hole physics and string theory strongly suggest that gravity is an emergent phenomenon and can be derived from an underlying microscopic description. The analogy between the gravitational field equations near black holes and thermodynamics and the known gauge/gravity dualities in string theory give particularly important clues towards the microscopic mechanism behind the emergence of gravity. Motivated by these ideas and by our best current understanding of M-theory, I propose a microscopic framework that naturally explains the origin of gravity, without presuming its presence. In this framework gravity, or rather inertia, arises as an adiabatic reaction force caused by fact that the microscopic phase space volume is influenced by the positions of matter. In a cosmological setting we find that that these ideas naturally give rise to the presence of dark energy, and furthermore lead to a quantitative match with the observed phenomena associated with dark matter, such as the flattening of rotation curves in spiral galaxies.