Two roads to the null energy condition

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The null energy condition has sweeping consequences in general relativity. I argue here that it has been misunderstood as a property exclusively of matter, when in fact it arises only in a theory of both matter and gravity. I then derive an equivalent geometric formulation of the null energy condition from worldsheet string theory, where it arises beautifully as simple Einstein's equations in two dimensions. But further, I show that this condition also has a thermodynamic origin, following from a local version of the second law of thermodynamics, applied to gravitational entropy. Thus, far from being an incidental property of matter, the validity of the null energy condition hints at the deep dual origins of gravity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1544030
JournalInternational Journal of Modern Physics D
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015



  • black hole thermodynamics
  • Energy conditions
  • gravitational aspects of string theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Mathematical Physics

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