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Notes: Chapter 16

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  • Notes: Chapter 16

    Notes: Chapter 16
    1. For the mathematically inclined reader, recall from note 6 of Chapter 6 that entropy is defined as the logarithm of the number of rearrangements (or states), and that's important to get the right answer in this example. When you join two Tupperware containers together, the various states of the air molecules can be described by giving the state of the air molecules in the first container, and then by giving the state of those in the second. Thus, the number of arrangements for the joined containers is the square of the number of arrangements of either separately. After taking the logarithm, this tells us that the entropy has doubled. Return to Text

    2. You will note that it doesn't really make much sense to compare a volume with an area, as they have different units. What I really mean here, as indicated by the text, is that the rate at which volume grows with radius is much faster than the rate at which surface area grows. Thus, since entropy is proportional to surface area and not volume, it grows more slowly with the size of a region than it would were it proportional to volume. Return to Text

    3. While this captures the spirit of the entropy bound, the expert reader will recognize that I am simplifying. The more precise bound, as proposed by Raphael Bousso, states that the entropy flux through a null hypersurface (with everywhere non-positive focusing parameter Theta) is bounded by A/4, where A is the area of a spacelike cross-section of the null hypersurface (the "light-sheet"). Return to Text

    4. More precisely, the entropy of a black hole is the area of its event horizon, expressed in Planck units, divided by 4, and multiplied by Boltzmann's constant. Return to Text

    5. The mathematically inclined reader may recall from the endnotes to Chapter 8 that there is another notion of horizon — a cosmic horizon — which is the dividing surface between those things with which an observer can and cannot be in causal contact. Such horizons are also believed to support entropy, again proportional to their surface area. Return to Text

    6. In 1971, the Hungarian-born physicist Dennis Gabor was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of something called holography. Initially motivated by the goal of improving the resolving power of electron microscopes, Gabor worked in the 1940s on finding ways to capture more of the information encoded in the light waves that bounce off an object. A camera, for example, records the intensity of such light waves; places where the intensity is high yield brighter regions of the photograph, and places where it's low are darker. Gabor and many others realized, though, that intensity is only part of the information that light waves carry. We saw this, for example, in Figure 4.2b: while the interference pattern is affected by the intensity (the amplitude) of the light (higher-amplitude waves yield an overall brighter pattern), the pattern itself arises because the overlapping waves emerging from each of the slits reach their peak, their trough, and various intermediate wave heights at different locations along the detector screen. The latter information is called phase information: two light waves at a given point are said to be in phase if they reinforce each other (they each reach a peak or trough at the same time), out of phase if they cancel each other (one reaches a peak while the other reaches a trough), and, more generally, they have phase relations intermediate between these two extremes at points where they partially reinforce or partially cancel. An interference pattern thus records phase information of the interfering light waves.

    Gabor developed a means for recording, on specially designed film, both the intensity and the phase information of light that bounces off an object. Translated into modem language, his approach is closely akin to the experimental setup of Figure 7.1, except that one of the two laser beams is made to bounce off the object of interest on its way to the detector screen. If the screen is outfitted with film containing appropriate photographic emulsion, it will record an interference pattern — in the form of minute, etched lines on the film's surface — between the unfettered beam and the one that has reflected off the object. The interference pattern will encode both the intensity of the reflected light and phase relations between the two light beams. The ramifications of Gabor's insight for science have been substantial, allowing for vast improvements in a wide range of measurement techniques. But for the public at large, the most prominent impact has been the artistic and commercial development of holograms.

    Ordinary photographs look flat because they record only light intensity. To get depth, you need phase information. The reason is that as a light wave travels, it cycles from peak to trough to peak again, and so phase information — or, more precisely, phase differences between light beams that reflect off nearby parts of an object — encodes differences in how far the light rays have traveled. For example, if you look at a cat straight on, its eyes are a little farther away than its nose and this depth difference is encoded in the phase difference between the light beams' reflecting off each facial element. By shining a laser through a hologram, we are able to exploit the phase information the hologram records, and thereby add depth to the image. We've all seen the results: stunning three-dimensional projections generated from two-dimensional pieces of plastic. Note, though, that your eyes do not use phase information to see depth. Instead, your eyes use parallax: the slight difference in the angles at which light from a given point travels to reach your left eye and your right eye supplies information that your brain decodes into the point's distance. That's why, for example, if you lose sight in one eye (or just keep it closed for a while), your depth perception is compromised. Return to Text

    7. For the mathematically inclined reader, the statement here is that a beam of light, or massless particles more generally, can travel from any point in the interior of antideSitter space to spatial infinity and back, in finite time. Return to Text

    8. For the mathematically inclined reader, Maldacena worked in the context of AdS5 x S^5, with the boundary theory arising from the boundary of AdS5. Return to Text

    9. This statement is more one of sociology than of physics. String theory grew out of the tradition of quantum particle physics, while loop quantum gravity grew out of the tradition of general relativity. However, it is important to note that, as of today, only string theory can make contact with the successful predictions of general relativity, since only string theory convincingly reduces to general relativity on large distance scales. Loop quantum gravity is understood well in the quantum domain, but bridging the gap to large-scale phenomena has proven difficult. Return to Text

    10. More precisely, as discussed further in Chapter 13 of The Elegant Universe, we have known how much entropy black holes contain since the work of Bekenstein and Hawking in the 1970s. However, the approach those researchers used was rather indirect, and never identified microscopic rearrangements — as in Chapter 6 — that would account for the entropy they found. In the mid-1990s, this gap was filled by two string theorists, Andrew Strominger and Cumrun Vafa, who cleverly found a relation between black holes and certain configurations of branes in string/M-theory. Roughly, they were able to establish that certain special black holes would admit exactly the same number of rearrangements of their basic ingredients (whatever those ingredients might be) as do particular, special combinations of branes. When they counted the number of such brane rearrangements (and took the logarithm) the answer they found was the area of the corresponding black hole, in Planck units, divided by 4 — exactly the answer for black hole entropy that had been found years before. Iri loop quantum gravity, researchers have also been able to show that the entropy of a black hole is proportional to its surface area, but getting the exact answer (surface area in Planck units divided by 4) has proven more of a challenge. If a particular parameter, known as the Immirzi parameter, is chosen appropriately, then indeed the exact black hole entropy emerges from the mathematics of loop quantum gravity, but as yet there is no universally accepted fundamental explanation, within the theory itself, of what sets the correct value of this parameter. Return to Text

    11. As I have throughout the chapter, I am suppressing quantitatively important but conceptually irrelevant numerical parameters. Return to Text
    Last edited by Reviewer; 10-15-2012, 06:18 AM.