Pennsylvania State University
Talks by Abhay Ashtekar
I will give a broad overview of this old subject which has come back to light recently in connection with the issue of black hole evaporation. It will be an informal, black board talk.
Surprisingly, several basic questions in classical and quantum gravity, which were resolved some 40-50 years ago for zero $\Lambda$, still remain open in the $\Lambda >0$ case. In particular, for $\Lambda >0$, we still do not have a satisfactory notion of gravitational radiation or Bondi 4-momentum in exact general relativity, nor a positive energy theorem. Similarly, the standard constructions of `in' and `out' Hilbert spaces that we routinely use (e.g. in the analysis of black hole evaporation) do not extend to the $\Lambda >0$ case.
Thanks to the spectacular observational advances since the 1990s, a `standard model' of the early universe has now emerged. However, since it is based on quantum field theory in curved space-times, it is not applicable in the Planck era. Using techniques from loop quantum gravity, the theory can be extended over the 12 orders of magnitude in density and curvature from the onset of inflation all the way back to the Planck regime, providing us with a possible completion of the standard model.
I try to make the point about what we know and what we do not yet know about the possibility of writing a quantum theory of gravity.