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Physics & Astronomy Colloquium – Steven Carlip

January 24, 2018 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Speaker: Steven Carlip , University of California, Davis

Title: The Small Scale Structure of Spacetime

Abstract: The general theory of relativity tells us that what we call gravity is really a manifestation of the geometry of space and time. The 100-year-old unsolved problem of quantum gravity is to understand the structure of this spacetime at the smallest scales.

Several recent lines of evidence hint that spacetime at very small distances may undergo “spontaneous dimensional reduction,” behaving as if it had only two dimensions rather than four. I will summarize some of the evidence for this strange behavior, complete with a few pictures of quantum fluctuations of spacetime, and talk about what it means for “dimension” to be a physical observable. Although the scales involved are tiny — a billionth of a billionth of the size of a proton — it is conceivable that this effect could be measurable; I’ll talk about that possibility, and what it would mean for physics.

Speaker Biography:

Department Website on Prof. Carlip

Prof. Carlip’s Personal Website

Video: Prof. Carlip’s Talk on Black Holes and Quantum Gravity at SETI Institute (2013)



January 24, 2018
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Karen Lynn


227 Gallalee Hall
514 University Blvd.
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 United States
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