Einstein’s True Legacy
There is something seriously wrong with the two pillars of contemporary theoretical physics. Combining general relativity (our theory of gravity) and the standard model of particle physics (our theory of the matter sourcing this gravity) leads to both: spectacular successes and equally spectacular failures, when being confronted with observational data. This includes the all-time worst prediction of fundamental theoretical physics — namely a theoretically sound calculation of the cosmological constant that misses the experimental value by 120 orders of magnitude.
The first half of this colloquium provides a seriously modern introduction into general relativity and matter fields — with no prior knowledge assumed — and thus elucidates these successes and failures for a professional audience of non-experts. This part concludes with the usual interpretation of today’s observational data as the monumental discovery that 96% percent of the energy and matter in the universe are not of standard model type.
In the second half, without changing any of the actual quantitative results, this generally relativistic picture about the relation of matter and gravity is turned around entirely, on the basis of theoretical insights obtained in the course of the last decade. At center stage is a mathematical result that reveals the hidden information about gravity in any field model of matter. In fact, the gravitational theory turns out to be determined by the matter model — and in a constructive manner at that!
The conceptual and practical impact of this result is briefly discussed with regards to far-reaching questions that may now be asked and answered in fundamental theoretical physics. From that vantage point, it then transpires that Einstein’s true legacy is precisely in the concepts, rather than the equations, he put forward.