19S1 D. Anselmi
Theories of gravitation




D. Anselmi
From Physics To Life

A journey to the infinitesimally small and back

In English and Italian

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Recent Papers


Talk given at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Southampton University, UK, on Nov 16th, 2018

I introduce the concept of fake particle and study how it is used to formulate a consistent theory of quantum gravity. Fakeons arise from a new quantization prescription, alternative to the Feynman one, for the poles of higher-derivative theories, which avoids the problem of ghosts. The fake particles mediate interactions and simulate true particles in many situations. Nevertheless, they are not asymptotic states and cannot be detected directly. The Wick rotation and the S matrix are regionwise analytic and the amplitudes can be calculated in all regions starting from the Euclidean one by means of an unambiguous, but nonanalytic operation. By reconciling renormalizability and unitarity in higher-derivative theories, the models containing both true and fake particles are good candidates to explain quantum gravity. In pole position is the unique theory that is strictly renormalizable. One of the major physical predictions due to the fakeons is the violation of microcausality. I discuss the classical limit of the theory and the acausal corrections to the Einstein equations.


Talk given at the conference

Progress and Visions in Quantum Theory in View of Gravity: Bridging foundations of physics and mathematics

Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig

October 04, 2018

I claim that the best correspondence principle for quantum field theory and quantum gravity is made of unitarity, locality and proper renormalizability (which is a refinement of strict renormalizability), combined with fundamental local symmetries and the requirement of having a finite number of fields. Quantum gravity is identified in an essentially unique way. It emerges from a new quantization prescription, which introduces the notion of fake particle, or “fakeon”, and uses it to resolve the long-standing problem of the higher-derivative ghosts. I discuss the major physical prediction of the theory, which is the violation of causality at small distances. The correspondence principle identifies the gauge interactions uniquely in form, but does not predict the gauge group. On the other hand, the matter sector remains almost completely unrestricted.


We discuss the fate of the correspondence principle beyond quantum mechanics, specifically in quantum field theory and quantum gravity, in connection with the intrinsic limitations of the human ability to observe the external world. We conclude that the best correspondence principle is made of unitarity, locality, proper renormalizability (a refinement of strict renormalizability), combined with fundamental local symmetries and the requirement of having a finite number of fields. Quantum gravity is identified in an essentially unique way. The gauge interactions are uniquely identified in form. Instead, the matter sector remains basically unrestricted. The major prediction is the violation of causality at small distances.


OSF preprints | DOI: 10.31219/

Philpapers ANSTCP-2

PhilSci 15287 (v1: PhilSci 15048)

Preprints 2018, 2018110213 | DOI: 10.20944/preprints201811.0213.v1


We elaborate on the idea of fake particle and study its physical consequences. When a theory contains fakeons, the true classical limit is determined by the quantization and a subsequent process of “classicization”. One of the major predictions due to the fake particles is the violation of microcausality, which survives the classical limit. This fact gives hope to detect the violation experimentally. A fakeon of spin 2, together with a scalar field, is able to make quantum gravity renormalizable while preserving unitarity. We claim that the theory of quantum gravity emerging from this construction is the right one. By means of the classicization, we work out the corrections to the field equations of general relativity. We show that the finalized equations have, in simple terms, the form $\langle F\rangle =ma$, where $\langle F\rangle $ is an average that includes a little bit of “future”.


Class. and Quantum Grav. 36 (2019) 065010 | DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/ab04c8

arXiv: 1809.05037 [hep-th]

We investigate the properties of fakeons in quantum gravity at one loop. The theory is described by a graviton multiplet, which contains the fluctuation $h_{\mu \nu }$ of the metric, a massive scalar $\phi $ and the spin-2 fakeon $\chi _{\mu \nu }$. The fields $\phi $ and $\chi _{\mu \nu }$ are introduced explicitly at the level of the Lagrangian by means of standard procedures. We consider two options, where $\phi $ is quantized as a physical particle or a fakeon, and compute the absorptive part of the self-energy of the graviton multiplet. The width of $\chi _{\mu \nu }$, which is negative, shows that the theory predicts the violation of causality at energies larger than the fakeon mass. We address this issue and compare the results with those of the Stelle theory, where $\chi _{\mu \nu }$ is a ghost instead of a fakeon.


J. High Energy Phys. 11 (2018) 21 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP11(2018)021

arXiv: 1806.03605 [hep-th]

We prove the renormalizability of various theories of classical gravity coupled with interacting quantum fields. The models contain vertices with dimensionality greater than four, a finite number of matter operators and a finite or reduced number of independent couplings. An interesting class of models is obtained from ordinary power-counting renormalizable theories, letting the couplings depend on the scalar curvature R of spacetime. The divergences are removed without introducing higher-derivative kinetic terms in the gravitational sector. The metric tensor has a non-trivial running, even if it is not quantized. The results are proved applying a certain map that converts classical instabilities, due to higher derivatives, into classical violations of causality, whose effects become observable at sufficiently high energies. We study acausal Einstein-Yang-Mills theory with an R-dependent gauge coupling in detail. We derive all-order formulas for the beta functions of the dimensionality-six gravitational vertices induced by renormalization. Such beta functions are related to the trace-anomaly coefficients of the matter subsector.


Class. Quant. Grav. 24 (2007) 1927 | DOI:  10.1088/0264-9381/24/8/003

arXiv: hep-th/0611131

I prove that classical gravity coupled with quantized matter can be renormalized with a finite number of independent couplings, plus field redefinitions, without introducing higher-derivative kinetic terms in the gravitational sector, but adding vertices that couple the matter stress-tensor with the Ricci tensor. The theory is called “acausal gravity”, because it predicts the violation of causality at high energies. Renormalizability is proved by means of a map M that relates acausal gravity with higher-derivative gravity. The causality violations are governed by two parameters, a and b, that are mapped by M into higher-derivative couplings. At the tree level causal prescriptions exist, but they are spoiled by the one-loop corrections. Some ideas are inspired by the usual treatments of the Abraham-Lorentz force in classical electrodynamics.


JHEP 0701 (2007) 062 | DOI: 10.1088/1126-6708/2007/01/062


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14B1 D. Anselmi

Course on renormalization, taught in Pisa in 2015. (More chapters will be added later.)

Last update: May 9th 2015, 230 pages

Avaibable on Amazon:


1. Functional integral
2. Renormalization
3. Renormalization group
4. Gauge symmetry
5. Canonical formalism
6. Quantum electrodynamics
7. Non-Abelian gauge field theories
Notation and useful formulas