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Effects of Non-locality in Gravity and Quantum Theory

  • Author / Creator
    Jens Boos
  • Spacetime—the union of space and time—is both the actor and the stage during physical processes in our fascinating Universe. In Lorentz invariant local theories, the existence of a maximum signalling speed (the “speed of light”) determines a notion of causality in spacetime, distinguishing the past from the future, and the cause from the effect. This thesis is dedicated to the study of deviations from locality. Focussing on a particular class of non-local theories that is both Lorentz invariant and free of ghosts, we aim to understand the effects of such non-local physics in both gravity and quantum theory. Non-local ghost-free theories are accompanied by a parameter ℓ of dimension length that parametrizes the scale of non-locality, and for that reason we strive to express all effects of non-locality in terms of this symbol. In the limiting case of ℓ = 0 one recovers the local theory, and the effects of non-locality vanish. In order to address these questions we develop the notion of non-local Green functions, study their causal properties, and demonstrate that non-locality leads to a violation of causality on small scales but may be recovered at macroscopic distances much larger than the scale of non-locality. In particular, we utilize non-local Green functions to construct the stationary gravitational field of point particles and extended bodies in the weak-field limit of non-local gravity and demonstrate explicitly that non-locality regularizes gravitational singularities at the linear level. Boosting these solutions to the speed of light in a suitable limit, we obtain a class of geometries corresponding to non-local regular ultrarelativistic objects. In the context of quantum mechanics we demonstrate that non-locality affects the scattering coefficients of a scalar field in the presence of a δ-shaped potential: for a critical frequency, the potential becomes completely opaque and reflects 100% of the incoming wave of that frequency. In the realm of non-local quantum field theory we first illustrate that non-locality smoothes the vacuum polarization and thermal fluctuations in the vicinity of a δ-shaped potential and then prove the fluctuation-dissipation theorem in this particular case. Turning towards quantum field theory in curved spacetime, we construct a non-local ghost-free generalization of the Polyakov effective action and evaluate the resulting quantum average of the energy-momentum tensor in the background of a two-dimensional black hole. While non-locality does not affect the asymptotic flux of Hawking radiation in this model, the entropy of the black hole is sensitive to the presence of non-locality. The results presented in this thesis establish several effects of a Lorentz invariant, ghost-free non-locality in the areas of both gravitational and quantum physics.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-7bt0-na76
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.