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Leonard Susskind | The Quantum Origins of Gravity

Monday, March 18, 2019

The 2018 Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture was given by Leonard Susskind in the Oskar Klein Auditorium, AlbaNova in Stockholm, Sweden on January 29, 2019.

Abstract: It is often said that general relativity and quantum mechanics are separate subjects that don’t fit together comfortably. There is a tension, even a contradiction between them—or so one often hears. I take exception to this view. I think that exactly the opposite is true. It may be too strong to say that gravity and quantum mechanics are exactly the same thing, but those of us who are paying attention, may already sense that the two are inseparable, and that neither makes sense without the other. Two things make me think so. The first is ER=EPR, the equivalence between quantum entanglement and spatial connectivity. In its strongest form ER=EPR holds not only for black holes but for any entangled systems—even empty space.  One may say that the most basic property of space—its connectivity—is due to the most quantum property of quantum mechanics: entanglement.

The second has to do with the dynamics of space, in particular its tendency to expand. One sees this in cosmology, but also behind the horizons of black holes. The expansion is thought to be connected with the tendency of quantum states to become increasingly computationally complex: a “second law of quantum complexity.” If one pushes these ideas to their logical limits, quantum entanglement of any kind implies the existence of hidden Einstein-Rosen bridges which have a strong tendency to grow, even in situations which one naively would think have nothing to do with gravity. To summarize this viewpoint in a short slogan: Wherever there is quantum mechanics, there is also gravity.