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[9910176v1] Einstein Frame or Jordan Frame

[9910176v1] Einstein Frame or Jordan Frame

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Published by: Nhat Minh on Jul 26, 2012
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Einstein frame or Jordan frame ?
Valerio Faraoni
and Edgard Gunzig
Research Group in General Relativity Universit´e Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Plaine CP 231Blvd. du Triomphe, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium 
Instituts Internationaux de Chimie et de Physique Solvay 
Scalar–tensor theories of gravity can be formulated in the Jordan or in theEinstein frame, which are conformally related. The issue of which conformal frameis physical is a contentious one; we provide a straightforward example based ongravitational waves in order to clarify the issue.
Published in
Int. J. Theor. Phys.
, 217.1
1 Introduction
Scalar–tensor theories of gravity, of which Brans–Dicke [1] theory is the prototype, arecompetitors to Einstein’s theory of general relativity for the description of classical grav-ity. Renewed interest in scalar–tensor theories of gravity is motivated by the extended[2] and hyperxtended [3] inflationary scenarios of the early universe. Additional moti- vation arises from the presence of a fundamental Brans–Dicke–like field in most highenergy physics theories unifying gravity with the other interactions (the string dilaton,the supergravity partner of spin 1
2 particles, etc.).It is well known since the original Brans–Dicke paper [1] that two formulations of scalar–tensor theories are possible; the version in the so–called Jordan conformal framecommonly presented in the textbooks (e.g. [4]–[6]), and the less known version based on the Einstein conformal frame, which is related to the former one by a conformaltransformation and a redefinition of the gravitational scalar field present in the theory.The possibility of two formulations related by a conformal transformation exists also forKaluza–Klein theories and higher derivative theories of gravity (see [7,13] for reviews). The problem of whether the two formulations of a scalar–tensor theory in the two con-formal frames are equivalent or not has been the issue of lively debates, which are notyet settled, and often is the source of confusion in the technical literature. While manyauthors support the point of view that the two conformal frames are equivalent, or eventhat physics at the energy scale of classical gravity and classical matter is always con-formally invariant, other authors support the opposite point of view, and others againare not aware of the problem (see the “classification of authors” in [7]). The issue isimportant in principle and in practice, since there are many applications of scalar–tensortheories and of conformal transformation techniques to the physics of the early universeand to astrophysics. The theoretical predictions to be compared with the observations(in cosmology, the existence of inflationary solutions of the field equations, and the spec-tral index of density perturbations) crucially depend on the conformal frame adopted toperform the calculations.In addition, if the two formulations of a scalar–tensor theory are not equivalent, theproblem arises of whether one of the two is physically preferred, and which one has to becompared with experiments and astronomical observations. Are both conformal versionsof the same theory viable, and good candidates for the description of classical gravity ?Unfortunately many authors neglect these problems, and the issue is not discussed inthe textbooks explaining scalar–tensor theories. On the other hand, it emerges fromthe work of several authors, in different contexts (starting with Refs. [8,10,11] on Kaluza–Klein and Brans–Dicke theories, and summarized in [7,13]), that 2
1. the formulations of a scalar–tensor theory in the two conformal frames are physi-cally inequivalent.2. The Jordan frame formulation of a scalar–tensor theory is not viable because theenergy density of the gravitational scalar field present in the theory is not boundedfrom below (violation of the weak energy condition [14]). The system therefore isunstable and decays toward a lower and lower energy state
ad infinitum 
[7,13]). 3. The Einstein frame formulation of scalar–tensor theories is free from the problem2). However, in the Einstein frame there is a violation of the equivalence principledue to the anomalous coupling of the scalar field to ordinary matter (this violationis small and compatible with the available tests of the equivalence principle [11];it is indeed regarded as an important low energy manifestation of compactifiedtheories [9]–[11], [12]). It is clear that property 2) is not acceptable for a viable
theory of gravity (aquantum system, on the contrary, may have states with negative energy density [15,16]). A classical theory must have a ground state that is stable against small perturbations.In spite of this compelling argument, there is a tendency to ignore the problem, whichresults in a uninterrupted flow of papers performing computations in the Jordan frame.The use of the latter is also implicitely supported by most textbooks on gravitationaltheories. Perhaps this is due to reluctance in accepting a violation of the equivalenceprinciple, on philosophical and aesthetic grounds, or perhaps it is due to the fact thatthe best discussions of this subject are rather mathematical than physical in character,and not well known. In this paper, we present a straightforward argument in favor of the Einstein frame, in the hope to help settling the issue.In Sec. 2 we recall the relevant formulas. In Sec. 3 we present a simple argumentbased on scalar–tensor gravitational waves, and section 4 contains a discussion and theconclusions.3

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