Communications in Mathematical Physics

, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 395–415 | Cite as

The unpredictability of quantum gravity

  • S. W. Hawking


Quantum gravity seems to introduce a new level of unpredictability into physics over and above that normally associated with the uncertainty principle. This is because the metric of spacetime can fluctuate from being globally hyperbolic. In other words, the evolution is not completely determined by Cauchy data at past or future infinity. I present a number of axioms that the asymptotic Green functions should obey in any reasonable theory of quantum gravity. These axioms are the same as for ordinary quantum field theory in flat spacetime, except that one axiom, that of asymptotic completeness, is omitted. This allows pure quantum states to decay into mixed states. Calculations with simple models of topologically non-trivial spacetime indicate that such loss of quantum coherence will occur but that the effect will be very small except for fundamental scalar particles, if any such exist.


Coherence Quantum Field Theory Quantum State Green Function Quantum Gravity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. W. Hawking
    • 1
  1. 1.D.A.M.T.P.University of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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