Title: Could our Universe have begun with Negative Lambda? Authors: Tirthabir Biswas, Tomi Koivisto, Anupam Mazumdar

In this paper we present a mechanism whereby the universe can "begin" with negative vacuum energy density, but then can transition to positive cosmological constant regions. In the process we provide a past geodesic completion of the inflationary paradigm.

We present a framework in which well-defined predictions are obtained in an eternally inflating multiverse, based on the principles of quantum mechanics. We show that the entire multiverse is described purely from the viewpoint of a single "observer," who describes the world as a quantum state defined on his/her past light cones bounded by the (stretched) apparent horizons. We find that quantum mechanics plays an essential role in regulating infinities. The framework is "gauge invariant," i.e. predictions do not depend on how spacetime is parameterised, as it should be in a theory of quantum gravity. Our framework provides a fully unified treatment of quantum measurement processes and the multiverse. We conclude that the eternally inflating multiverse and many worlds in quantum mechanics are the same. Other important implications include: global spacetime can be viewed as a derived concept; the multiverse is a transient phenomenon during the world relaxing into a supersymmetric Minkowski state. We also present a theory of "initial conditions" for the multiverse. By extrapolating our framework to the extreme, we arrive at a picture that the entire multiverse is a fluctuation in the stationary, fractal "mega-multiverse," in which an infinite sequence of multiverse productions occurs. The framework discussed here does not suffer from problems/paradoxes plaguing other measures proposed earlier, such as the youngness paradox, Boltzmann brain problem, and peculiar "end" of time.

Physicists Discover New Way to Visualise Warped Space and Time

When black holes slam into each other, the surrounding space and time surge and undulate like a heaving sea during a storm. This warping of space and time is so complicated that physicists haven't been able to understand the details of what goes on - until now. By combining theory with computer simulations, Thorne and his colleagues at Caltech, Cornell University, and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics in South Africa have developed conceptual tools they've dubbed tendex lines and vortex lines. Using these tools, they have discovered that black-hole collisions can produce vortex lines that form a doughnut-shaped pattern, flying away from the merged black hole like smoke rings. The researchers also found that these bundles of vortex lines - called vortexes - can spiral out of the black hole like water from a rotating sprinkler. Read more

Title: The Topology and Size of the Universe from the Cosmic Microwave Background Authors: Grigor Aslanyan, Aneesh V. Manohar

We study the possibility that the universe has compact topologies Tł, T˛ x Rą, or Są x R˛ using the seven-year WMAP data. The maximum likelihood 95% confidence intervals for the size L of the compact direction are 1.7 < L/L_0 < 2.1, 1.8 < L/L_0 < 2.0, 1.2 < L/L_0 < 2.1 for the three cases, respectively, where L_0=14.4 Gpc is the distance to the last scattering surface. An infinite universe is compatible with the data at 4.3 sigma. We find using a Bayesian analysis that the most probable universe has topology T˛ x Rą, with L/L_0=1.9.

Gabriel's Horn (also called Torricelli's trumpet) is a geometric figure which has infinite surface area but encloses a finite volume. The name refers to the tradition identifying the Archangel Gabriel as the angel who blows the horn to announce Judgment Day, associating the divine, or infinite, with the finite. The properties of this figure were first studied by Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli. Read more

Physicists at UCLA set out to design a better transistor and ended up discovering a new way to think about the structure of space. Space is usually considered infinitely divisible - given any two positions, there is always a position halfway between. But in a recent study aimed at developing ultra-fast transistors using graphene, researchers from the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy and the California NanoSystems Institute show that dividing space into discrete locations, like a chessboard, may explain how point-like electrons, which have no finite radius, manage to carry their intrinsic angular momentum, or "spin." While studying graphene's electronic properties, professor Chris Regan and graduate student Matthew Mecklenburg found that a particle can acquire spin by living in a space with two types of positions - dark tiles and light tiles. The particle seems to spin if the tiles are so close together that their separation cannot be detected. Read more

Title: Discreteness of the volume of space from Bohr-Sommerfeld quantisation Authors: Eugenio Bianchi, Hal M. Haggard

A major challenge for any theory of quantum gravity is to quantise general relativity while retaining some part of its geometrical character. We present new evidence for the idea that this can be achieved by directly quantising space itself. We compute the Bohr-Sommerfeld volume spectrum of a tetrahedron and show that it reproduces the quantisation of a grain of space found in loop gravity.

Title: Limits on Spacetime Foam Authors: Wayne A. Christiansen, David J. E. Floyd, Y. Jack Ng, Eric S. Perlman (Version v2)

Plausibly spacetime is "foamy'' on small distance scales, due to quantum fluctuations. We elaborate on the proposal to detect spacetime foam by looking for seeing disks in the images of distant quasars and AGNs. This is a null test in the sense that the continued presence of unresolved "point'' sources at the milli-arc second level in samples of distant compact sources puts severe constraints on theories of quantised spacetime foam at the Planckian level. We discuss the geometry of foamy spacetime, and the appropriate distance measure for calculating the expected angular broadening. We then deal with recent data and the constraints they put on spacetime foam models. While time lags from distant pulsed sources such as GRBs have been posited as a possible test of spacetime foam models, we demonstrate that the time-lag effect is rather smaller than has been calculated, due to the equal probability of positive and negative fluctuations in the speed of light inherent in such models. Thus far, images of high-redshift quasars from the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (UDF) provide the most stringent test of spacetime foam theories. While random walk models (\alpha = 1/2) have already been ruled out, the holographic (\alpha=2/3) model remains viable. Here \alpha ~ 1 parameterises the different spacetime foam models according to which the fluctuation of a distance l is given by ~ l^{1 - \alpha} l_P^{\alpha} with l_P being the Planck length. Indeed, we see a slight wavelength-dependent blurring in the UDF images selected for this study. Using existing data in the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) archive we find it is impossible to rule out the \alpha=2/3 model, but exclude all models with \alpha<0.65. By comparison, current GRB time lag observations only exclude models with \alpha<0.3.

Title: Dynamically avoiding fine-tuning the cosmological constant: the "Relaxed Universe" Authors: Florian Bauer, Joan Sola, Hrvoje Stefancic (Version v2)

We demonstrate that there exists a large class of action functionals of the scalar curvature and of the Gauss-Bonnet invariant which are able to relax dynamically a large cosmological constant (CC), whatever it be its starting value in the early universe. Hence, it is possible to understand, without fine-tuning, the very small current value of the CC as compared to its theoretically expected large value in quantum field theory and string theory. In our framework, this relaxation appears as a pure gravitational effect, where no ad hoc scalar fields are needed. The action involves a positive power of a characteristic mass parameter, M, whose value can be, interestingly enough, of the order of a typical particle physics mass of the Standard Model of the strong and electroweak interactions or extensions thereof, including the neutrino mass. The model universe emerging from this scenario (the "Relaxed Universe") falls within the class of the so-called LXCDM models of the cosmic evolution. Therefore, there is a "cosmon" entity X (represented by an effective object, not a field), which in this case is generated by the effective functional and is responsible for the dynamical adjustment of the cosmological constant. This model universe successfully mimics the essential past epochs of the standard (or "concordance") cosmological model (LCDM). Furthermore, it provides interesting clues to the coincidence problem and it may even connect naturally with primordial inflation.

It would be the perfect hiding place: a hole carved out of spacetime. Optical physicists have created blueprints for a cloak that generates a pocket in reality in which actions can be concealed. In practice, the proposed design can be built only inside the special environment of an optical fibre. But even this constrained space-time cloak could have useful effects, such as assisting quantum computing. Read more