Go to previous page Go up Go to next page

2.3 EEP, particle physics, and the search for new interactions

Thus far, we have discussed EEP as a principle that strictly divides the world into metric and non-metric theories, and have implied that a failure of EEP might invalidate metric theories (and thus general relativity). On the other hand, there is mounting theoretical evidence to suggest that EEP is likely to be violated at some level, whether by quantum gravity effects, by effects arising from string theory, or by hitherto undetected interactions. Roughly speaking, in addition to the pure Einsteinian gravitational interaction, which respects EEP, theories such as string theory predict other interactions which do not. In string theory, for example, the existence of such EEP-violating fields is assured, but the theory is not yet mature enough to enable a robust calculation of their strength relative to gravity, or a determination of whether they are long range, like gravity, or short range, like the nuclear and weak interactions, and thus too short range to be detectable.

In one simple example [92], one can write the Lagrangian for the low-energy limit of a string-inspired theory in the so-called “Einstein frame”, in which the gravitational Lagrangian is purely general relativistic:

( [ ] &tidle; ∘ --- μν -1- &tidle; 1-&tidle; μν αβ ℒ = − &tidle;g &tidle;g 2 κR μν − 2G (ϕ)∂μϕ ∂νϕ − U (ϕ )&tidle;g &tidle;g Fμα Fνβ --[ ( ) ] ) +ψ&tidle; i&tidle;eμγa ∂μ + &tidle;Ω μ + qAμ − &tidle;M (ϕ) &tidle;ψ , (28 ) a
where &tidle;gμν is the non-physical metric, &tidle; R μν is the Ricci tensor derived from it, ϕ is a dilaton field, and &tidle; G, U and &tidle; M are functions of ϕ. The Lagrangian includes that for the electromagnetic field F μν, and that for particles, written in terms of Dirac spinors &tidle;ψ. This is not a metric representation because of the coupling of ϕ to matter via &tidle;M (ϕ) and U(ϕ ). A conformal transformation g&tidle;μν = F(ϕ )g μν, ψ&tidle;= F(ϕ )−3∕4ψ, puts the Lagrangian in the form (“Jordan” frame)
√ ---( [ ] ℒ = − g gμν 1-F (ϕ)R μν − 1F (ϕ)G&tidle;(ϕ)∂μϕ ∂νϕ + ---3---∂ μF ∂νF 2κ 2 4κF (ϕ) --[ ] ) − U (ϕ)gμν gαβF μαFνβ + ψ ieμaγa(∂μ + Ωμ + qA μ) − M&tidle;(ϕ)F 1∕2 ψ . (29 )
One may choose F (ϕ ) = const.∕ &tidle;M (ϕ)2 so that the particle Lagrangian takes the metric form (no explicit coupling to ϕ), but the electromagnetic Lagrangian will still couple non-metrically to U(ϕ ). The gravitational Lagrangian here takes the form of a scalar-tensor theory (see Section 3.3.2). But the non-metric electromagnetic term will, in general, produce violations of EEP. For examples of specific models, see [254Jump To The Next Citation Point85Jump To The Next Citation Point]. Another class of non-metric theories are included in the “varying speed of light (VSL)” theories; for a detailed review, see [178].

On the other hand, whether one views such effects as a violation of EEP or as effects arising from additional “matter” fields whose interactions, like those of the electromagnetic field, do not fully embody EEP, is to some degree a matter of semantics. Unlike the fields of the standard model of electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions, which couple to properties other than mass-energy and are either short range or are strongly screened, the fields inspired by string theory could be long range (if they remain massless by virtue of a symmetry, or at best, acquire a very small mass), and can couple to mass-energy, and thus can mimic gravitational fields. Still, there appears to be no way to make this precise.

As a result, EEP and related tests are now viewed as ways to discover or place constraints on new physical interactions, or as a branch of “non-accelerator particle physics”, searching for the possible imprints of high-energy particle effects in the low-energy realm of gravity. Whether current or proposed experiments can actually probe these phenomena meaningfully is an open question at the moment, largely because of a dearth of firm theoretical predictions.

2.3.1 The “fifth” force

On the phenomenological side, the idea of using EEP tests in this way may have originated in the middle 1980s, with the search for a “fifth” force. In 1986, as a result of a detailed reanalysis of Eötvös’ original data, Fischbach et al. [108] suggested the existence of a fifth force of nature, with a strength of about a percent that of gravity, but with a range (as defined by the range λ of a Yukawa potential, e−r∕λ∕r) of a few hundred meters. This proposal dovetailed with earlier hints of a deviation from the inverse-square law of Newtonian gravitation derived from measurements of the gravity profile down deep mines in Australia, and with emerging ideas from particle physics suggesting the possible presence of very low-mass particles with gravitational-strength couplings. During the next four years numerous experiments looked for evidence of the fifth force by searching for composition-dependent differences in acceleration, with variants of the Eötvös experiment or with free-fall Galileo-type experiments. Although two early experiments reported positive evidence, the others all yielded null results. Over the range between one and 104 meters, the null experiments produced upper limits on the strength of a postulated fifth force between 10–3 and 10–6 of the strength of gravity. Interpreted as tests of WEP (corresponding to the limit of infinite-range forces), the results of two representative experiments from this period, the free-fall Galileo experiment and the early Eöt-Wash experiment, are shown in Figure 1View Image. At the same time, tests of the inverse-square law of gravity were carried out by comparing variations in gravity measurements up tall towers or down mines or boreholes with gravity variations predicted using the inverse square law together with Earth models and surface gravity data mathematically “continued” up the tower or down the hole. Despite early reports of anomalies, independent tower, borehole, and seawater measurements ultimately showed no evidence of a deviation. Analyses of orbital data from planetary range measurements, lunar laser ranging (LLR), and laser tracking of the LAGEOS satellite verified the inverse-square law to parts in 108 over scales of 103 to 105 km, and to parts in 109 over planetary scales of several astronomical units [250Jump To The Next Citation Point]. A consensus emerged that there was no credible experimental evidence for a fifth force of nature, of a type and range proposed by Fischbach et al. For reviews and bibliographies of this episode, see [1071091104278].

2.3.2 Short-range modifications of Newtonian gravity

Although the idea of an intermediate-range violation of Newton’s gravitational law was dropped, new ideas emerged to suggest the possibility that the inverse-square law could be violated at very short ranges, below the centimeter range of existing laboratory verifications of the 1 ∕r2 behavior. One set of ideas [1311221220] posited that some of the extra spatial dimensions that come with string theory could extend over macroscopic scales, rather than being rolled up at the Planck scale of 10–33 cm, which was then the conventional viewpoint. On laboratory distances large compared to the relevant scale of the extra dimension, gravity would fall off as the inverse square, whereas on short scales, gravity would fall off as 1 / R2+n, where n is the number of large extra dimensions. Many models favored n = 1 or n = 2. Other possibilities for effective modifications of gravity at short range involved the exchange of light scalar particles.

Following these proposals, many of the high-precision, low-noise methods that were developed for tests of WEP were adapted to carry out laboratory tests of the inverse square law of Newtonian gravitation at millimeter scales and below. The challenge of these experiments has been to distinguish gravitation-like interactions from electromagnetic and quantum mechanical (Casimir) effects. No deviations from the inverse square law have been found to date at distances between 10 μm and 10 mm [17113012952170]. For a comprehensive review of both the theory and the experiments, see [3].

  Go to previous page Go up Go to next page