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Dark energy and gravity. (English) Zbl 1137.83382

Summary: I review the problem of dark energy focussing on cosmological constant as the candidate and discuss what it tells us regarding the nature of gravity. Section 1 briefly overviews the currently popular “concordance cosmology” and summarizes the evidence for dark energy. It also provides the observational and theoretical arguments in favour of the cosmological constant as a candidate and emphasizes why no other approach really solves the conceptual problems usually attributed to cosmological constant. Section 2 describes some of the approaches to understand the nature of the cosmological constant and attempts to extract certain key ingredients which must be present in any viable solution. In the conventional approach, the equations of motion for matter fields are invariant under the shift of the matter Lagrangian by a constant while gravity breaks this symmetry. I argue that until the gravity is made to respect this symmetry, one cannot obtain a satisfactory solution to the cosmological constant problem. Hence cosmological constant problem essentially has to do with our understanding of the nature of gravity. Section 3 discusses such an alternative perspective on gravity in which the gravitational interaction-described in terms of a metric on a smooth spacetime-is an emergent, long wavelength phenomenon, and can be described in terms of an effective theory using an action associated with normalized vectors in the spacetime. This action is explicitly invariant under the shift of the matter energy momentum tensor \(T_{ab}\rightarrow T_{ab} + \Lambda g_{ab}\) and any bulk cosmological constant can be gauged away. Extremizing this action leads to an equation determining the background geometry which gives Einstein’s theory at the lowest order with Lanczos-Lovelock type corrections. In this approach, the observed value of the cosmological constant has to arise from the energy fluctuations of degrees of freedom located in the boundary of a spacetime region.

MSC:

83F05 Relativistic cosmology
83C55 Macroscopic interaction of the gravitational field with matter (hydrodynamics, etc.)
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