As one of the greatest concepts in all of human history, general relativity and quantum mechanics are also the building blocks of modern physics. Both are utilized in everything ranging from telecommunications to laptops and smartphones. Sadly, the two don’t collaborate so well with one another. That’s precisely why theoretical physicists have been researching a unifying theory. In essence, they’re seeking the theory of everything.
To achieve this, they have been pushing the two theories to their limits. This allows scientists to locate when a foundational law has been broken. With the latest research findings, it seems a rather intriguing violation of general relativity has become apparent. Researchers of Cambridge University and Queen Mary University have examined one particular scenario in general relativity that broke in this way.
Using a supercomputer, they were able to model a five-dimensional ring-shaped black hole. Subsequently, it was uncovered that the black hole evolved into a naked singularity, thus violating relativity. Singularities like black holes are objects of infinite density. By the laws of physics, they are permitted to exist only when surrounded by an event horizon (a surface that separates them from the rest of the universe.)
“Naked” singularities within a four dimensional universe are not mathematically possible. The law is largely referred to as the cosmic censorship conjecture. Coauthor of the study, Markus Kunesch stated in a press release: “As long as singularities stay hidden behind an event horizon, they do not cause trouble and general relativity holds – the ‘cosmic censorship conjecture’ says that this is always the case.”
“As long as the cosmic censorship conjecture is valid, we can safely predict the future outside of black holes. Because ultimately, what we’re trying to do in physics is to predict the future given knowledge about the state of the universe now.”
Though the cosmic censorship conjecture is believed to hold for our universe, the final results raise questions about what could be so special about a universe with three space dimensions and a time dimension. This also brings into question certain theories such as quantum gravity and string theories which mandate 11 dimensions for investigation. The scenario currently in question claims that the fifth dimension is a random extra dimension in space.
Coauthor Saran Tunyasuvunakool says, “The better we get at simulating Einstein’s theory of gravity in higher dimensions, the easier it will be for us to help with advancing new computational techniques – we’re pushing the limits of what you can do on a computer when it comes to Einstein’s theory. But if cosmic censorship doesn’t hold in higher dimensions, then maybe we need to look at what’s so special about a four-dimensional universe that means it does hold.”
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