Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

The conjectured formula — posed in the June 25 paper by Cumrun Vafa, Georges Obied, Hirosi Ooguri, and Lev Spodyneiko and further explored in a second paper released two days later by Vafa, Obied, Prateek Agrawal, and Paul Steinhardt — says, simply, that as the universe expands, the density of energy in the vacuum of empty space must decrease faster than a certain rate. The rule appears to be true in all simple string theory-based models of universes. But it violates two widespread beliefs about the actual universe: It deems impossible both the accepted picture of the universe’s present-day expansion and the leading model of its explosive birth.

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