A Wikipedia page for the Amplituhedron
The Amplituhedron is a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. Research into the object has been led by Nima Arkani-Hamed.has existed ever since the illusion of 07:52, 18 September 2013.
In particle physics, Richard Feynman's method of measuring scattering amplitudes has problems.
He sketched line drawings of all the ways a scattering process could occur and then summed the likelihoods of the different drawings. The simplest Feynman diagrams look like trees: The particles involved in a collision come together like roots, and the particles that result shoot out like branches. More complicated diagrams have loops, where colliding particles turn into unobservable “virtual particles” that interact with each other before branching out as real final products. There are diagrams with one loop, two loops, three loops and so on — increasingly baroque iterations of the scattering process that contribute progressively less to its total amplitude.One problem is that the method is so complex.
In 1986, it became apparent that Feynman’s apparatus was a Rube Goldberg machine.This led to questioning locality.
Locality has problems. One problem is that if you look too closely, things collapse into a black hole.
Locality says that particles interact at points in space-time. But suppose you want to inspect space-time very closely. Probing smaller and smaller distance scales requires ever higher energies, but at a certain scale, called the Planck length, the picture gets blurry: So much energy must be concentrated into such a small region that the energy collapses the region into a black hole, making it impossible to inspect.Looking at things in ways that collapse things into black holes should obviously, in most cases, be avoided.
“There’s no way of measuring space and time separations once they are smaller than the Planck length,” said Arkani-Hamed. “So we imagine space-time is a continuous thing, but because it’s impossible to talk sharply about that thing, then that suggests it must not be fundamental — it must be emergent.”Dumping locality and its problems led to the discovery of the Amplituhedron, a geometric conception, which greatly simplifies the calculations.
“The degree of efficiency is mind-boggling,” said Jacob Bourjaily, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University and one of the researchers who developed the new idea. “You can easily do, on paper, computations that were infeasible even with a computer before.”Which, as stated previously, leads back to questioning space and time.
“They are very powerful calculational techniques, but they are also incredibly suggestive,” Skinner said. “They suggest that thinking in terms of space-time was not the right way of going about this.”Whether you need to hold onto your chair, about this news, is yet to be determined.
The new geometric version of quantum field theory could also facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes. The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics: locality and unitarity.