## Purely virtual quanta

We study primordial cosmology with two scalar fields that participate in inflation at the same time, by coupling quantum gravity (i.e., the theory $R+R^2+C^2$ with the fakeon prescription/projection for $C^2$) to a scalar field with a quadratic potential. We show that there exists a perturbative regime that can be described by an asymptotically de Sitter, cosmic RG flow in two couplings. Since the two scalar degrees of freedom mix in nontrivial ways, the adiabatic and isocurvature perturbations are not RG invariant on superhorizon scales. It is possible to identify the correct perturbations by using RG invariance as a guiding principle. We work out the resulting power spectra of the tensor and scalar perturbations to the NNLL and NLL orders, respectively. An unexpected consequence of RG invariance is that the theory remains predictive. Indeed, the scalar mixing affects only the subleading corrections, so the predictions of quantum gravity with single-field inflation are confirmed to the leading order.

J. Cosmol. Astropart. Phys. 07 (2021) 037 | DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2021/07/037

We study inflation as a “cosmic” renormalization-group flow. The flow, which encodes the dependence on the background metric, is described by a running coupling $\alpha $, which parametrizes the slow roll, a de Sitter free, analytic beta function and perturbation spectra that are RG invariant in the superhorizon limit. Using RG invariance as a guiding principle, we classify the main types of flows according to the properties of their spectra, without referring to their origins from specific actions or models. Novel features include spectra with essential singularities in $\alpha $ and violations of the relation $r+8n_{\text{t}}=0$ to the leading order. Various classes of potentials studied in the literature can be described by means of the RG approach, even when the action includes a Weyl-squared term, while others are left out. In known cases, the classification helps identify the models that are ruled out by data. The RG approach is also able to generate spectra that cannot be derived from standard Lagrangian formulations.

We compute the inflationary perturbation spectra and the quantity $r+8n_{T}$ to the next-to-next-to-leading log order in quantum gravity with purely virtual particles (which means the theory $R+R^{2}+C^{2}$ with the fakeon prescription/projection for $C^{2}$). The spectra are functions of the inflationary running coupling $\alpha (1/k)$ and satisfy the cosmic renormalization-group flow equations, which determine the tilts and the running coefficients. The tensor fluctuations receive contributions from the spin-2 fakeon $\chi _{\mu \nu }$ at every order of the expansion in powers of $\alpha \sim 1/115$. The dependence of the scalar spectrum on the $\chi

_{\mu \nu }$ mass $m_{\chi }$, on the other hand, starts from the $\alpha^{2}$ corrections, which are handled perturbatively in the ratio $m_{\phi}/m_{\chi }$, where $m_{\phi }$ is the inflaton mass. The predictions have theoretical errors ranging from $\alpha ^{4}\sim 10^{-8}$ to $\alpha^{3}\sim 10^{-6}$. Nontrivial issues concerning the fakeon projection at higher orders are addressed.

J. Cosmol. Astropart. Phys. 02 (2021) 029 | DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2021/02/029

We study the running of power spectra in inflationary cosmology as a renormalization-group flow from the de Sitter fixed point. The beta function is provided by the equations of the background metric. The spectra of the scalar and tensor fluctuations obey RG evolution equations with vanishing anomalous dimensions in the superhorizon limit. By organizing the perturbative expansion in terms of leading and subleading logs, we calculate the spectral indices, their runnings, the runnings of the runnings, etc., to the next-to-leading log order in quantum gravity with fakeons (i.e., the theory $R+R^2+C^2$ with the fakeon prescription/projection for $C^2$). We show that these quantities are related to the spectra in a universal way. We also compute the first correction to the relation $r=−8n_T$ and provide a number of quantum gravity predictions that can be hopefully tested in the forthcoming future.

J. Cosmol. Astropart. Phys. 01 (2021) 048 | DOI: 10.1088/1475-7516/2021/01/048

We derive the predictions of quantum gravity with fakeons on the amplitudes and spectral indices of the scalar and tensor fluctuations in inflationary cosmology. The action is $R+R^{2}$ plus the Weyl-squared term. The ghost is eliminated by turning it into a fakeon, that is to say a purely virtual particle. We work to the next-to-leading order of the expansion around the de Sitter background. The consistency of the approach puts a lower bound ($m_{\chi }>m_{\phi }/4$) on the mass $m_{\chi }$ of the fakeon with respect to the mass $m_{\phi }$ of the inflaton. The tensor-to-scalar ratio $r$ is predicted within less than an order of magnitude ($4/3 < N^{2}r<12$ to the leading order in the number of $e$-foldings $N$). Moreover, the relation $r\simeq -8n_{T}$ is not affected by the Weyl-squared term. No vector and no other scalar/tensor degree of freedom is present.

J. High Energy Phys. 07 (2020) 211 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP07(2020)211

The search for purely virtual quanta has attracted interest in the past. We consider various proposals and compare them to the concept of fake particle, or “fakeon”. In particular, the Feynman-Wheeler propagator, which amounts to using the Cauchy principal value inside Feynman diagrams, violates renormalizability, unitarity and stability, due to the coexistence of the prescriptions $\pm i\epsilon $. We contrast the Feynman, fakeon and Feynman-Wheeler prescriptions in ordinary as well as cut diagrams. The fakeon does not have the problems of the Feynman-Wheeler propagator and emerges as the correct concept of purely virtual quantum. It allows us to make sense of quantum gravity at the fundamental level, and places it on an equal footing with the standard model. The resulting theory of quantum gravity is perturbative up to an incredibly high energy.

J. High Energ. Phys. 03 (2020) 142 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP03(2020)142