Abstract:
After a brief introduction, basic ideas of the quantum Riemannian geometry underlying loop quantum gravity are summarized. To illustrate physical ramifications of quantum geometry, the framework is then applied to homogeneous isotropic cosmology. Quantum geometry effects are shown to replace the big bang by a big bounce. Thus, quantum physics does not stop at the big-bang singularity. Rather there is a pre-big-bang branch joined to the current post-big-bang branch by a `quantum bridge'. Furthermore, thanks to the background independence of loop quantum gravity, evolution is deterministic across the bridge.

Abstract:
Recently, it is shown that, the quantum effects of matter are well described by the conformal degree of freedom of the space-time metric. On the other hand, it is a wellknown fact that according to Einstein's gravity theory, gravity and geometry are interconnected. In the new quantum gravity theory, matter quantum effects completely determine the conformal degree of freedom of the space-time metric, while the causal structure of the space-time is determined by the gravitational effects of the matter, as well as the quantum effects through back reaction effects. This idea, previousely, is realized in the framework of scalar-tensor theories. In this work, it is shown that quantum gravity theory can also be realized as a purely metric theory. Such a theory is developed, its consequences and its properties are investigated. The theory is applied, then, to black holes and the radiation-dominated universe. It is shown that the initial singularity can be avoided.

Abstract:
We explain how quantum gravity can be defined by quantizing spacetime itself. A pinpoint is that the gravitational constant G = L_P^2 whose physical dimension is of (length)^2 in natural unit introduces a symplectic structure of spacetime which causes a noncommutative spacetime at the Planck scale L_P. The symplectic structure of spacetime M leads to an isomorphism between symplectic geometry (M, \omega) and Riemannian geometry (M, g) where the deformations of symplectic structure \omega in terms of electromagnetic fields F=dA are transformed into those of Riemannian metric g. This approach for quantum gravity allows a background independent formulation where spacetime as well as matter fields is equally emergent from a universal vacuum of quantum gravity which is thus dubbed as the quantum equivalence principle.

Abstract:
The geometro-stochastic method of quantization provides a framework for quantum general relativity, in which the principal frame bundles of local Lorentz frames that underlie the fibre-theoretical approach to classical general relativity are replaced by Poincar\'e-covariant quantum frame bundles. In the semiclassical regime for quantum field theory in curved spacetime, where the gravitational field is not quantized, the elements of these local quantum frames are generalized coherent states, which emerge naturally from phase space representations of the Poincar\'e group. Due to their informational completeness, these quantum frames are capable of taking over the role played by complete sets of observables in conventional quantum theory. The propagation of quantum-geometric fields proceeds by path integral methods, based on parallel transport along broken paths consisting of arcs of geodesics of the Levi-Civita connection. The formulation of quantum gravity within this framework necessitates the transition to quantum superframe bundles and a quantum gravitational supergroup capable of incorporating diffeomorphism invariance into the framework. This results in a geometric version of quantum gravity which shares some conceptual features with covariant as well as with canonical gravity, but which avoids the foundational and the mathematical difficulties encountered by these two approaches.

Abstract:
Recent progress in quantum field theory and quantum gravity relies on mixed boundary conditions involving both normal and tangential derivatives of the quantized field. In particular, the occurrence of tangential derivatives in the boundary operator makes it possible to build a large number of new local invariants. The integration of linear combinations of such invariants of the orthogonal group yields the boundary contribution to the asymptotic expansion of the integrated heat-kernel. This can be used, in turn, to study the one-loop semiclassical approximation. The coefficients of linear combination are now being computed for the first time. They are universal functions, in that are functions of position on the boundary not affected by conformal rescalings of the background metric, invariant in form and independent of the dimension of the background Riemannian manifold. In Euclidean quantum gravity, the problem arises of studying infinitely many universal functions.

Abstract:
We give a brief account of the description of the standard model in noncommutative geometry as well as the thermal time hypothesis, questioning their relevance for quantum gravity.

Abstract:
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.

Abstract:
I will propose that the reality to which the quantum formalism implicitly refers is a kind of generalized history, the word history having here the same meaning as in the phrase sum-over-histories. This proposal confers a certain independence on the concept of event, and it modifies the rules of inference concerning events in order to resolve a contradiction between the idea of reality as a single history and the principle that events of zero measure cannot happen (the Kochen-Specker paradox being a classic expression of this contradiction). The so-called measurement problem is then solved if macroscopic events satisfy classical rules of inference, and this can in principle be decided by a calculation. The resulting conception of reality involves neither multiple worlds nor external observers. It is therefore suitable for quantum gravity in general and causal sets in particular.

Abstract:
We study a c=-2 conformal field theory coupled to two-dimensional quantum gravity by means of dynamical triangulations. We define the geodesic distance r on the triangulated surface with N triangles, and show that dim[r^{d_H}]= dim[N], where the fractal dimension d_H = 3.58 +/- 0.04. This result lends support to the conjecture d_H = -2\alpha_1/\alpha_{-1}, where \alpha_{-n} is the gravitational dressing exponent of a spin-less primary field of conformal weight (n+1,n+1), and it disfavors the alternative prediction d_H = -2/\gamma_{str}. On the other hand, we find dim[l] = dim[r^2] with good accuracy, where l is the length of one of the boundaries of a circle with (geodesic) radius r, i.e. the length l has an anomalous dimension relative to the area of the surface. It is further shown that the spectral dimension d_s = 1.980 +/- 0.014 for the ensemble of (triangulated) manifolds used. The results are derived using finite size scaling and a very efficient recursive sampling technique known previously to work well for c=-2.

Abstract:
We review applications of noncommutative geometry in canonical quantum gravity. First, we show that the framework of loop quantum gravity includes natural noncommutative structures which have, hitherto, not been explored. Next, we present the construction of a spectral triple over an algebra of holonomy loops. The spectral triple, which encodes the kinematics of quantum gravity, gives rise to a natural class of semiclassical states which entail emerging fermionic degrees of freedom. In the particular semiclassical approximation where all gravitational degrees of freedom are turned off, a free fermionic quantum field theory emerges. We end the paper with an extended outlook section.