Chennai Mathematical Institute


Surface Tension and the Cosmological constant
Joseph Samuel
Raman Research Institute, Bangalore.


One of the few predictions from quantum gravity models is Sorkin's observation that the cosmological constant has quantum fluctuations originating in the fundamental discreteness of spacetime at the Planck scale. Here we present a compelling analogy between the cosmological constant of the universe and the surface tension of fluid membranes. The discreteness of spacetime on the Planck scale translates into the discrete molecular structure of a fluid membrane. We propose an analog quantum gravity experiment which realises Sorkin's idea in the laboratory. We also notice that the analogy sheds light on the cosmological constant problem, suggesting a mechanism for dynamically generating a vanishingly small cosmological constant. We emphasize the generality of Sorkin's idea and suggest that similar effects occur generically in quantum gravity models.