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Physics  2001 

Quantum Geometry and Gravity: Recent Advances

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Over the last three years, a number of fundamental physical issues were addressed in loop quantum gravity. These include: A statistical mechanical derivation of the horizon entropy, encompassing astrophysically interesting black holes as well as cosmological horizons; a natural resolution of the big-bang singularity; the development of spin-foam models which provide background independent path integral formulations of quantum gravity and `finiteness proofs' of some of these models; and, the introduction of semi-classical techniques to make contact between the background independent, non-perturbative theory and the perturbative, low energy physics in Minkowski space. These developments spring from a detailed quantum theory of geometry that was systematically developed in the mid-nineties and have added a great deal of optimism and intellectual excitement to the field. The goal of this article is to communicate these advances in general physical terms, accessible to researchers in all areas of gravitational physics represented in this conference.


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