Theoretical Investigations in Classical and Quantum Gravity

  • Ashtekar, Abhay (PI)
  • Pullin, Jorge J. (CoPI)
  • Penrose, Roger R. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


A number of projects in theoretical gravitational physics will be

completed. In the first set, issues pertaining to black holes will be

analyzed using a new paradigm, introduced recently by Ashtekar's

group. In particular, physical information will be extracted from

numerical simulations of black hole mergers in regions where gravity

is so strong that effects of Einstein's general relativity dominate.

In the second set, mathematical issues pertaining to the structure and

solutions of Einstein's general relativity will be resolved using

``Twistor theory'' introduced by Roger Penrose and developed by his

research group. The third set contains a number of projects pertaining

to quantum gravity, the theory that will unify general relativity with

quantum physics. Suitable approximation methods will be developed by

the research groups of Ashtekar and Pullin to better understand the

structure of a quantum gravity theory, that is being developed by the

PIs and others, and to make physical predictions which could be tested

in the near future.

These projects interlink several fields: general relativity,

computational physics, astrophysics, quantum theory and several

branches of geometry. For example, the first set of projects is based

on Einstein's equations of general relativity but the accurate

estimates of the mass and spin of the final black hole and of the

energy radiated in the process, obtained from them, will have impact

on astrophysics in general and to gravitational wave physics in

particular. The second set will use novel techniques from algebraic

geometry to solve Einstein's equations. Unification of general

relativity and quantum physics is perhaps the most outstanding open

problem in fundamental physics today. The proposed projects in the

third set combine sophisticated techniques from modern mathematics and

theoretical physics to probe the nature of space-time geometry at the

smallest scales conceivable today. Through his general relativity

theory, Einstein proposed that geometry is a physical entity. Some of

our projects are aimed at elevating Einstein's vision to the quantum

world showing, in particular, that matter, radiation and geometry can

be converted in to one another through quantum processes involving

gravity. Other projects will use astronomical observations of gamma

ray bursts from ongoing NASA missions to directly probe the

ramifications of these novel quantum effects. This will be among the

first systematic efforts at confronting the rather abstract quantum

gravity theory with concrete experiments.

Effective start/end date1/1/0112/31/05


  • National Science Foundation: $1,498,620.00


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