School on quantum gravity in Chile

Don Marolf, Syracuse University marolf@phy.syr.edu

For ten days in January, nearly 70 grad students and postdocs representing over 13 countries gathered at the Centro Estudios Cientificos (CECS) in Valdivia, Chile for the PASI school on quantum gravity. Supported by the U.S. NSF and DOE through a grant to Syracuse University, by Syracuse University funds, by the Millennium Science Initiative (Chile), and by a group of private companies that supports CECS, the school featured a series of lectures by renowned experts with ample time for questions and discussion. My co-organizer Andres Gomberoff and I were pleased to arrange lectures by Marc Henneaux, Ted Jacobson, Clifford Johnson, Juan Maldacena, Rob Myers, Washington Taylor, Claudio Teitelboim, Bob Wald, and Frank Wilczek. We were also looking forward to lectures by Abhay Ashtekar and Rafael Sorkin and, although both had to cancel due to last minute emergencies, both remained connected to the program. Sorkin was able to send a set of typed lecture notes that were widely read and discussed and questions and comments from several of Ashtekar's students ensured that their point of view was represented.

Though perhaps we are somewhat biased, Andres and I thought that the interactions between the speakers was excellent - in particular, between the string theorists and other quantum gravity speakers. Along with the excellent questions from students, public discussion among the lecturers helped to draw out the important but subtle points in each of the talks. Readers curious about the topics can still find the schedule posted at http://physics.syr.edu/~pasi/sched.html, but suffice it to say that the range was broad and the quality was excellent. I am very much looking forward to the proceedings that speakers have promised to write (hint, hint!). They will no doubt become a valuable reference for the community.

We were also extremely pleased with how well the students mixed, though it is unclear whether this was due to the intellectual environment, the pool parties at the hotel, the local Cuban Salsa club, or the sheer joy of the North Americans experiencing summer in January. The contacts made with those from other countries or other perspectives on quantum gravity should serve these students well throughout their career. We are very grateful to CECS for providing a dynamic, stimulating, and lovely environment for the school. Thanks again to everyone who helped to make the event a success!!


Jorge Pullin 2002-09-23