2.2 What is the problem? 2 Quantum Gravity: Where are 2 Quantum Gravity: Where are

2.1 What is the problem? The view of a high energy physicist

High energy physics has obtained spectacular successes during this century, culminating with the (far from linear) establishment of quantum field theory as the general form of dynamics and with the comprehensive success of the tex2html_wrap_inline2488 Standard Model. Thanks to this success, now a few decades old, physics is in a position in which it has very rarely been: There are no experimental results that clearly challenge, or clearly escape, the present fundamental theory of the world. The theory we have encompasses virtually everything - except gravitational phenomena. From the point of view of a particle physicist, gravity is then simply the last and weakest of the interactions. It is natural to try to understand its quantum properties using the strategy that has been so successful for the rest of microphysics, or variants of this strategy. The search for a conventional quantum field theory capable of embracing gravity has spanned several decades and, through an adventurous sequence of twists, moments of excitement and disappointments, has lead to string theory. The foundations of string theory are not yet well understood; and it is not yet entirely clear how a supersymmetric theory in 10 or 11 dimensions can be concretely used for deriving comprehensive univocal predictions about our world. Popup Footnote But string theory may claim extremely remarkable theoretical successes and is today the leading and most widely investigated candidate theory of quantum gravity.

In string theory, gravity is just one of the excitations of a string (or other extended object) living over some background metric space. The existence of such background metric space, over which the theory is defined, is needed for the formulation and for the interpretation of the theory. This is the case not only in perturbative string theory, but, to my understanding, in the recent attempts at a non-perturbative definition of the theory, such as M theory. Thus, for a physicist with a high energy background, the problem of quantum gravity is now reduced to an aspect of the problem of understanding: What is the mysterious nonperturbative theory that has perturbative string theory as its perturbation expansion? And how does one extract information on Planck scale physics from it?



2.2 What is the problem? 2 Quantum Gravity: Where are 2 Quantum Gravity: Where are

image Loop Quantum Gravity
Carlo Rovelli
http://www.livingreviews.org/lrr-1998-1
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