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  1. A bstract The Distance Conjecture holds that any infinite-distance limit in the scalar field moduli space of a consistent theory of quantum gravity must be accompanied by a tower of light particles whose masses scale exponentially with proper field distance ‖ ϕ ‖ as m ~ exp(− λ ‖ ϕ ‖), where λ is order-one in Planck units. While the evidence for this conjecture is formidable, there is at present no consensus on which values of λ are allowed. In this paper, we propose a sharp lower bound for the lightest tower in a given infinite-distance limit in d dimensions: λ ≥ $$ 1/\sqrt{d-2} $$ 1 / d − 2 . In support of this proposal, we show that (1) it is exactly preserved under dimensional reduction, (2) it is saturated in many examples of string/M-theory compactifications, including maximal supergravity in d = 4 – 10 dimensions, and (3) it is saturated in many examples of minimal supergravity in d = 4 – 10 dimensions, assuming appropriate versions of the Weak Gravity Conjecture. We argue that towers with λ < $$ 1/\sqrt{d-2} $$ 1 / d − 2 discussed previously in the literature are always accompanied by even lighter towersmore »with λ ≥ $$ 1/\sqrt{d-2} $$ 1 / d − 2 , thereby satisfying our proposed bound. We discuss connections with and implications for the Emergent String Conjecture, the Scalar Weak Gravity Conjecture, the Repulsive Force Conjecture, large-field inflation, and scalar field potentials in quantum gravity. In particular, we argue that if our proposed bound applies beyond massless moduli spaces to scalar fields with potentials, then accelerated cosmological expansion cannot occur in asymptotic regimes of scalar field space in quantum gravity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023