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[0802.4038] The Hydrogen atom in Palatini theories of gravi

Posted: April 18 2008
by Jason Dick
I've been curious about this paper for a little while. It purports to show that Palatini theories of gravity where f(R) includes a 1/R term are incompatible with the universe we live in, by looking at their effects on the hydrogen atom.

The basic claim is that in any such theory of gravity, the various curvature terms will modify gravity on all scales, and thus we cannot simply look at the effects of Palatini theories on large scales, but also small scales. The author then goes to show that when applied to the hydrogen atom, one finds that the mass changes depending upon whether the electron is in an orbital versus when it is unbounded, which provides a 'way out' of the electron via tunneling. This, therefore, makes the hydrogen atom unstable, which is clearly incompatible with observed reality.

So, my question is, does anybody here with more expertise in this area than myself know whether this paper is any good or not? It seems like, if correct, it could be very strong evidence in favor of dark energy as opposed to modified gravity.