The dynamics of shapes
Gomes, Henrique (2011) The dynamics of shapes. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This thesis consists of two parts, connected by one central theme: the dynamics of the "shape of space". To give the reader some inkling of what we mean by "shape of space", consider the fact that the shape of a triangle is given solely by its three internal angles; its position and size in ambient space are irrelevant for this ultimately intrinsic description. Analogously, the shape of a 3 dimensional space is given by a metric up to coordinate and conformal changes. Considerations of a relational nature strongly support the development of such dynamical theories of shape. The first part of the thesis concerns the construction of a theory of gravity dynamically equivalent to general relativity (GR) in 3+1 form (ADM). What is special about this theory is that it does not possess foliation invariance, as does ADM. It replaces that "symmetry" by another: local conformal invariance. In so doing it more accurately reflects a theory of the "shape of space", giving us reason to call it shape dynamics. (SD). Being a very recent development, the consequences of this radical change of perspective on gravity are still largely unexplored. In the first part we will try to present some of the highlights of results so far, and indicate what we can and cannot do with shape dynamics. Because this is a young, rapidly moving field, we have necessarily left out some interesting new results which are not yet in print and were developed alongside the writing of the thesis. The second part of the thesis will develop a gauge theory for "shape of space"--theories. To be more precise, if one admits that the physically relevant bservables are given by shape, our descriptions of Nature carry a lot of redundancy, namely absolute local size and absolute spatial position. This redundancy is related to the action of the infinite-dimensional conformal and diffeomorphism groups on the geometry of space. We will show that the action of these groups can be put into a language of infinite-dimensional gauge theory, taking place in the configuration space of 3+1 gravity. In this context gauge connections acquire new and interesting meanings, and can be used as "relational tools".
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