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A bstract The Distance Conjecture holds that any infinitedistance 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 orderone 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 infinitedistance limit in d dimensions: λ ≥ $$ 1/\sqrt{d2} $$ 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/Mtheory 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 < $$ 1/\sqrt{d2} $$ 1 / d − 2 discussed previously in the literature are always accompanied by even lighter towers with λ ≥ $$ 1/\sqrt{d2} $$ 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, largefield 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.more » « lessFree, publiclyaccessible full text available December 1, 2023

A bstract Strong (sublattice or tower) formulations of the Weak Gravity Conjecture (WGC) imply that, if a weakly coupled gauge theory exists, a tower of charged particles drives the theory to strong coupling at an ultraviolet scale well below the Planck scale. This tower can consist of lowspin states, as in KaluzaKlein theory, or highspin states, as with weaklycoupled strings. We provide a suggestive bottomup argument based on the mild p form WGC that, for any gauge theory coupled to a fundamental axion through a θF ∧ F term, the tower is a stringy one. The chargecarrying string states at or below the WGC scale gM Pl are simply axion strings for θ , with charged modes arising from anomaly inflow. KaluzaKlein theories evade this conclusion and postpone the appearance of highspin states to higher energies because they lack a θF ∧ F term. For abelian KaluzaKlein theories, modified arguments based on additional abelian groups that interact with the KaluzaKlein gauge group sometimes pinpoint a mass scale for charged strings. These arguments reinforce the Emergent String and Distant Axionic String Conjectures. We emphasize the unproven assumptions and weak points of the arguments, which provide interesting targets for further work. In particular, a sharp characterization of when gauge fields admit θF ∧ F couplings and when they do not would be immensely useful for particle phenomenology and for clarifying the implications of the Weak Gravity Conjecture.more » « less

A bstract We draw attention to a class of generalized global symmetries, which we call “ChernWeil global symmetries,” that arise ubiquitously in gauge theories. The Noether currents of these ChernWeil global symmetries are given by wedge products of gauge field strengths, such as F 2 ∧ H 3 and tr( $$ {F}_2^2 $$ F 2 2 ), and their conservation follows from Bianchi identities. As a result, they are not easy to break. However, it is widely believed that exact global symmetries are not allowed in a consistent theory of quantum gravity. As a result, any ChernWeil global symmetry in a lowenergy effective field theory must be either broken or gauged when the theory is coupled to gravity. In this paper, we explore the processes by which ChernWeil symmetries may be broken or gauged in effective field theory and string theory. We will see that many familiar phenomena in string theory, such as axions, ChernSimons terms, worldvolume degrees of freedom, and branes ending on or dissolving in other branes, can be interpreted as consequences of the absence of ChernWeil symmetries in quantum gravity, suggesting that they might be general features of quantum gravity. We further discuss implications of breaking and gauging ChernWeil symmetries for particle phenomenology and for boundary CFTs of AdS bulk theories. ChernWeil global symmetries thus offer a unified framework for understanding many familiar aspects of quantum field theory and quantum gravity.more » « less

A bstract It is widely believed that consistent theories of quantum gravity satisfy two basic kinematic constraints: they are free from any global symmetry, and they contain a complete spectrum of gauge charges. For compact, abelian gauge groups, completeness follows from the absence of a 1form global symmetry. However, this correspondence breaks down for more general gauge groups, where the breaking of the 1form symmetry is insufficient to guarantee a complete spectrum. We show that the correspondence may be restored by broadening our notion of symmetry to include noninvertible topological operators, and prove that their absence is sufficient to guarantee a complete spectrum for any compact, possibly disconnected gauge group. In addition, we prove an analogous statement regarding the completeness of twist vortices : codimension2 objects defined by a discrete holonomy around their worldvolume, such as cosmic strings in four dimensions. We discuss how this correspondence is modified in various, more general contexts, including noncompact gauge groups, Higgsing of gauge theories, and the addition of ChernSimons terms. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results for the Swampland program, as well as the phenomenological implications of the existence of twist strings.more » « less

null (Ed.)A bstract In many gauge theories, the existence of particles in every representation of the gauge group (also known as completeness of the spectrum) is equivalent to the absence of oneform global symmetries. However, this relation does not hold, for example, in the gauge theory of nonabelian finite groups. We refine this statement by considering topological operators that are not necessarily associated with any global symmetry. For discrete gauge theory in three spacetime dimensions, we show that completeness of the spectrum is equivalent to the absence of certain GukovWitten topological operators. We further extend our analysis to four and higher spacetime dimensions. Since topological operators are natural generalizations of global symmetries, we discuss evidence for their absence in a consistent theory of quantum gravity.more » « less

null (Ed.)A bstract We develop methods for resummation of instanton lattice series. Using these tools, we investigate the consequences of the Weak Gravity Conjecture for largefield axion inflation. We find that the Sublattice Weak Gravity Conjecture implies a constraint on the volume of the axion fundamental domain. However, we also identify conditions under which alignment and clockwork constructions, and a new variant of N flation that we devise, can evade this constraint. We conclude that some classes of lowenergy effective theories of largefield axion inflation are consistent with the strongest proposed form of the Weak Gravity Conjecture, while others are not.more » « less

Abstract Motivated by the Weak Gravity Conjecture, we uncover an intricate interplay between black holes, BPS particle counting, and Calabi‐Yau geometry in five dimensions. In particular, we point out that extremal BPS black holes exist only in certain directions in the charge lattice, and we argue that these directions fill out a cone that is dual to the cone of effective divisors of the Calabi‐Yau threefold. The tower and sublattice versions of the Weak Gravity Conjecture require an infinite tower of BPS particles in these directions, and therefore imply purely geometric conjectures requiring the existence of infinite towers of holomorphic curves in every direction within the dual of the cone of effective divisors. We verify these geometric conjectures in a number of examples by computing Gopakumar‐Vafa invariants.