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Black Holes and the Structure of Spacetime

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Black holes have taught us a variety of surprising lessons about the structure of gravity and spacetime. In this two-part talk, I will first show that all diffeomorphism-invariant theories of gravity have a deep connection to thermodynamics: the classical equations of gravitation always arise from thermodynamic equations applied locally. In the second part, I will show that a Gauss-Bonnet term in the gravitational action, which appears in the low-energy effective action of heterotic string theory, can greatly enhance the nucleation of black holes in four-dimensional de Sitter space. This leads to an upper bound on how curved empty de Sitter space can be.

This talk is part of the Wednesday HEP-GR Colloquium series.

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