It is a new year. Time to look ahead, having completed a project toward the end of last year. Well, it still has some things I can look at, but I did make a bit of a breakthrough (if removing an error that resolved an annoying divergence can be called a “breakthrough”). Now, it is natural to look further ahead and ask oneself where one is heading.
In my case, I still hope to develop a formalism that is powerful enough to formulate fundamental theories that incorporate the dynamics of the standard model with gravity. But wait, isn’t that what they are trying to do with string theory and all those other theories?
No, there is a difference. The idea is not to build the speculative aspects of a new theory into the formalism itself. It seems to me that all the currently popular attempts to formulate theories of fundamental physics incorporate speculative ideas into the mathematics of the formalism itself. If they fail, the whole thing fails and there is nothing to salvage.
The only physics that should be built into the formalism is physics that has been established as scientific knowledge. That is the situation with quantum field theory. It has special relativity built into it, because that has been confirmed experimentally. Thus it allows speculative new theories to be formulated.
The inclusion of special relativity may also be the reason why quantum field theory cannot model gravity, which goes beyond special relativity. The obvious thing is then to modify the part that involves the special relativity and to replace it with general relativity. Well that has been tried and did not work.
I think the reason why the obvious extension of quantum field theory to incorporate gravity did not work is because it does not incorporate the formulation of states. Gravity depends on the nature of states. Therefore, my idea is to replace the path integral formulation with a functional phase space. Such a functional phase space formulation allows the definition of arbitrary complicated states. Such a functional phase space formulation is an idea that has been bounced around in the literature, but I have not seen a complete formulation that can handle gravity.