A Bold Ideas in Physics and Frontiers in Science Lecture by Abhay Ashtekar, Pennsylvania State University
For over two millennia, civilizations have pondered over the questions of cosmogenesis. But serious attempts to address them began only with Einstein's discovery of general relativity a century ago. Advances over the past 25 years have led to the fascinating conclusion that the large-scale structure of the universe can be traced back to quantum nothingness.
Investigations in quantum gravity are now addressing the issue of the origin of space and time itself, enabling us to peer past the Big Bang. This talk will provide an overview of this saga in terms that are accessible to undergraduates and the general public.
About the Speaker
Abhay Vasant Ashtekar is a theoretical physicist. He is the Eberly Professor of Physics and the Director of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos at Pennsylvania State University. As the creator of Ashtekar variables, he is one of the founders of loop quantum gravity and its subfield, loop quantum cosmology. He has written a number of descriptions of loop quantum gravity that are accessible to non-physicists.
In 1999, Ashtekar and his colleagues calculated the entropy for a black hole, matching a legendary 1974 prediction by Stephen Hawking. Oxford mathematical physicist Roger Penrose has described Ashtekar's approach to quantum gravity as "the most important of all the attempts at 'quantizing' general relativity."
About the David Ritz Finkenstein Bold Ideas in Physics Lectures
Lectures in this series celebrate the memory of Georgia Tech physicist David Ritz Finkelstein, who took intellectual risks, avoided safe questions, and instead took on deep and challenging problems of real significance and potential.
About Frontiers in Science Lectures
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talk for nonexpert audiences.