Cosmology and the quantum vacuum

11 March 2020
VI Cosmology and the Quantum Vacuum conference
String inspiration Ekaterina Pozdeeva (Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Moscow) discusses the stability of de Sitter solutions in "Gauss-Bonnet" gravity. Credit: S. Odintsov

The sixth Cosmology and the Quantum Vacuum conference attracted about 60 theoreticians to the Institute of Space Sciences in Barcelona from 5 to 7 March. This year the conference marked Spanish theorist Emilio Elizalde’s 70th birthday. He is a well known specialist in mathematical physics, field theory and gravity, with over 300 publications and three monographs on the Casimir effect and zeta regularisation. He has co-authored remarkable works on viable theories of modified gravity which unify inflation with dark energy.

These meetings bring together researchers who study theoretical cosmology and various aspects of the quantum vacuum such as the Casimir effect. This quantum effect manifests itself as an attractive force which appears between plates which are extremely close to each other. As it is related to the quantum vacuum, it is expected to be important in cosmology as well, giving a kind of effective induced cosmological constant. Manuel Asorey (Zaragoza), Mike Bordag (Leipzig) and Aram Saharian (Erevan) discussed various aspects of the Casimir effect for scalars and for gauge theories. Joseph Buchbinder gave a review of one-loop effective action in supersymmetric gauge theories. Conformal quantum gravity and quantum electrodynamics in de Sitter space were presented by Enrique Alvarez (Madrid) and Drazen Glavan (Brussels), respectively.

Enrique Gaztanaga argued for two early inflationary periods

Even more attention was paid to theoretical cosmology. The evolution of the early and/or late universe in different theories of modified gravity was discussed by several delegates, with Enrique Gaztanaga (Barcelona) expressing an interesting point of view on the inflationary universe, arguing for two early inflationary periods.

Martiros Khurshyadyan and I discussed modified-gravity cosmology with the unification of inflation and dark energy, and wormholes, building on work with Emilio Elizalde. Wormholes are usually related with exotic matter, however they may in alternative gravity be caused by modifications to the gravitational equations of motion. Iver Brevik (Trondheim) gave an excellent introduction to viscosity in cosmology. Rather exotic wormholes were presented by Sergey Sushkov (Kazan), while black holes in modified gravity were discussed by Gamal Nashed (Cairo). A fluid approach to the dark-energy epoch and the addition of four forms (antisymmetric tensor fields with four indices) to late universe evolution was given by Diego Saez (Vallodolid) and Mariam Bouhmadi-Lopez (Bilbao), respectively. Novel aspects of non-standard quintessential inflation were presented by Jaime Haro (Barcelona).

Many interesting talks were given by young participants at this meeting. The exchange of ideas between cosmologists on the one side and quantum-field-theory specialists on the other will surely help in the further development of rigorous approaches to the construction of quantum gravity. It also opens the window onto a much better account of quantum effects in the history of the universe.

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