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Physics  1996 

A length operator for canonical quantum gravity

DOI: 10.1063/1.532445

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We construct an operator that measures the length of a curve in four-dimensional Lorentzian vacuum quantum gravity. We work in a representation in which a $SU(2)$ connection is diagonal and it is therefore surprising that the operator obtained after regularization is densely defined, does not suffer from factor ordering singularities and does not require any renormalization. We show that the length operator admits self-adjoint extensions and compute part of its spectrum which like its companions, the volume and area operators already constructed in the literature, is purely discrete and roughly is quantized in units of the Planck length. The length operator contains full and direct information about all the components of the metric tensor which faciliates the construction of a new type of weave states which approximate a given classical 3-geometry.


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