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I General Relativity and Quantum Theory limit

  1. Dec 20, 2017 #1
    I've always read that these two theories are incompatible, and how General Relativity works for large scales while Quantum Theory represent reality in extra-small cases.
    So my question is where is the limit where General relativity ceases to exist and Quantum Theory gives a better portrait of reality?
    There is a scale in which those can coexist?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2017 #2
    It isn't that they are incompatible, just very different.
    They coexists at all scales, but the effects of relativity are commonly seen at very large scales and the effects of QM are commonly seen at very small scales.

    In some cases, such as linear accelerators, the effects can be seen working together.
     
  4. Dec 20, 2017 #3

    PeterDonis

    Staff: Mentor

    I think many physicists would disagree with this as you state it, since perceived incompatibility between GR and QM in their current states is a major motivation for seeking a theory of quantum gravity.

    I would say that practically speaking, GR and QM as we actually apply them are compatible, because in any system of practical interest, we can mesh the two without incompatibility using suitable approximations. For example, we can study quantum field theory in curved spacetime without having to quantize spacetime itself; and if we need to model the "back reaction" of the energy in the quantum field on the spacetime geometry, we do it using a suitable expectation value of stress-energy. But that's a weaker statement than just saying that GR and QM are not incompatible, period.
     
  5. Dec 21, 2017 #4

    Mister T

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Anywhere that the newtonian approximation can be applied with success.
     
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