Densities of states and the Cohen-Kaplan-Nelson bound

Nikita Blinov, Patrick Draper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The holographic principle implies that quantum field theory (QFT) overcounts the number of independent degrees of freedom in quantum gravity. An argument due to Cohen, Kaplan, and Nelson (CKN) suggests that the number of degrees of freedom well described by QFT is even smaller than required by holographic bounds, and CKN interpreted this result as indicative of a correlation between the UV and IR cutoffs on QFT. Here, we consider an alternative interpretation in which the QFT degrees of freedom are depleted as a function of scale. We use a simple recipe to estimate the impact of depleted densities of states on precision observables, including the Lamb shift and lepton g-2. Although these observables are not sensitive to the level of depletion motivated by gravitational considerations, the phenomenological exercises also provide an interesting test of quantum field theory that is independent of underlying quantum gravity assumptions. A depleted density of states can also render the QFT vacuum energy UV insensitive, reconciling the success of QFT in describing ordinary particle physics processes and its apparent failure in predicting the cosmological constant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number076024
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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