“Spacetime and Physical Equivalence”
Abstract: I begin to lay out a conceptual scheme for: (i) analysing dualities as cases of theoretical equivalence; (ii) assessing when cases of theoretical equivalence are also cases of physical equivalence. The scheme is applied to gauge/gravity dualities. I expound what I argue to be their contribution to questions about: (iii) the nature of spacetime in quantum gravity; (iv) broader philosophical and physical discussions of spacetime. (i)-(ii) proceed by analysing duality through four contrasts. I will apply this scheme to answering questions (iii)-(iv) for gauge/gravity dualities. I will argue that the things that are physically relevant are those that stand in a bijective correspondence under duality: the common core of the two models. I therefore conclude that most of the mathematical and physical structures that we are familiar with, in these models (the dimension of spacetime, tensor fields, Lie groups), are largely, though crucially never entirely, not part of that common core. Thus, the interpretation of dualities for theories of quantum gravity compels us to rethink the roles that spacetime, and many other tools in theoretical physics, play in theories of spacetime.
PP Nov 14 deHaro flyer