Theory and experiment in quantum gravity

Elizabeth Winstanley, University of Sheffield
Quantum gravity is a wide-ranging subject, with many different theoretical approaches and the exciting possibility of probing quantum gravity phenomenology in the near future. The aim of this meeting was to give an overview of current research in at least some areas of quantum gravity, both theoretical and experimental. The talks were pedagogical in nature and accessible to PhD students, and the meeting informal, with plenty of time for discussion. The meeting was held in the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, University of Durham, on July 7-8, and organized by Ruth Gregory (Durham) and Elizabeth Winstanley (Sheffield).

The first day began with three talks on theoretical approaches to quantum gravity. Fay Dowker (Imperial College London) gave an introduction to the concept of causal sets and the new construction of swerves for particle paths on a causal set; John Barrett (Nottingham) reviewed current research in spin foams and the latest developments in $3+0$-dimensional quantum gravity; and Bernard Kay (York) introduced the theory of quantum field theory in curved space, and its applications to the Casimir effect and black hole radiation. The second session of the first day was devoted to higher dimensions and branes. Tony Padilla (Oxford) explained the particular features of brane world gravity, and focussed on the idea of braneworld holography; and Christos Charmousis (Orsay) covered higher derivative (particularly Lovelock) gravity, and its importance for $4+N$-dimensional spacetimes. The first day ended with a talk by Panagiota Kanti (Durham) on the Hawking radiation of higher-dimensional brane black holes.

The second day began with cosmology: Ian Moss (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) spoke about quantum effects in brane cosmology, and the role of boundary conditions in Horava-Witten theory. Ivonne Zavala (Boulder) brought us up-to-date with developments in brane inflation in string theory. Then the emphasis changed to experimental areas: Joy Christian (Oxford) explored the forthcoming experimental possibilities of probing the Planck scale with cosmogenic neutrinos, and Giles Hammond (Birmingham) introduced the new experiments testing the Casimir force and the inverse square law at short range.

This two-day meeting was attended by over 60 people, including many graduate students. The organizers would like to thank the Mathematical & Theoretical Physics and Gravitational Physics Groups of the Institute of Physics for financial support.

Jorge Pullin 2005-10-05