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Quantum black holes: a macroscopic window into quantum gravity

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact David Marsh.

The pioneering work of Bekenstein and Hawking in the 70s showed that black holes have a thermodynamic behavior. They produced a universal area law for black hole entropy valid in the limit that the black hole is infinitely large. Quantum effects induce finite-size corrections to this formula, thus providing a window into the fundamental microscopic theory of gravity and its deviations from classical general relativity. In this talk I will discuss recent advances in high-precision computations of quantum black hole entropy in supersymmetric theories of gravity, using new localization techniques. These calculations allow us to test the suggestion that black holes are really ensembles of microscopic states in a very detailed manner, much beyond the semi-classical limit.

I will then discuss how one can independently verify these calculations using explicit models of microscopic ensembles for black holes in string theory constructed in the 90s. These investigations throw up a surprising link to number theory and the so-called Mock modular forms of Ramanujan. I will end by sketching some research directions that these ideas lead to.

This talk is part of the Theoretical Physics Colloquium series.

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