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


The concept of fake particle, or “fakeon”, allows us to make sense of quantum gravity as an ultraviolet complete theory, by renouncing causality at very small distances. We investigate whether the violation of microcausality can be amplified or detected in the most common settings. We show that it is actually short range for all practical purposes. Due to our experimental limitations, the violation does not propagate along the light cones or by means of gravitational waves. In some cases, the universe even conspires to make the effect disappear. For example, the positivity of the Hubble constant appears to be responsible for the direction of time in the early universe.


Class. Quantum Grav. 37 (2020) 095003 | DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/ab78d2

arXiv: 1909.12873 [gr-qc]

We point out the idea that, at small scales, gravity can be described by the standard degrees of freedom of general relativity, plus a scalar particle and a degree of freedom of a new type: the fakeon. This possibility leads to fundamental implications in understanding gravitational force at quantum level as well as phenomenological consequences in the corresponding classical theory.


Int. J. Mod. Phys. D 28 (2019) 1944007 | DOI: 10.1142/S0218271819440073

arXiv: 1905.06516 [hep-th]

Talk given at the Conference “Scale invariance in particle physics and cosmology“, CERN, on January 29th, 2019

A new quantization prescription is able to endow quantum field theory with a new type of “particle”, the fakeon (fake particle), which mediates interactions, but cannot be observed. A massive fakeon of spin 2 (together with a scalar field) allows us to build a theory of quantum gravity that is both renormalizable and unitary, and to some extent unique. After presenting the general properties of this theory, I discuss its classical limit, which carries important remnants of the fakeon quantization prescription.


Watch talk from the CERN Document Server

Under certain assumptions, it is possible to make sense of higher derivative theories by quantizing the unwanted degrees of freedom as fakeons, which are later projected away. Then the true classical limit is obtained by classicizing the quantum theory. Since quantum field theory is formulated perturbatively, the classicization is also perturbative. After deriving a number of properties in a general setting, we consider the theory of quantum gravity that emerges from the fakeon idea and study its classicization, focusing on the FLRW metric. We point out cases where the fakeon projection can be handled exactly, which include radiation, the vacuum energy density and the combination of the two, and cases where it cannot, which include dust. Generically, the classical limit shares many features with the quantum theory it comes from, including the impossibility to write down complete, “exact” field equations, to the extent that asymptotic series and nonperturbative effects come into play.


J. High Energy Phys. 04 (2019) 61 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP04(2019)061

arXiv: 1901.09273 [gr-qc]

OSF preprints | DOI: 10.31219/


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]

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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