Big Bang and the Quantum

School of Mathematics Colloquium
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - 3:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Chemistry and Biochemistry Boggs Building, Room B-6A
Abhay Ashtekar – Department of Physics and Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry, Pennsylvania State University – ashtekar@gravity.psu.edu
Lew Lefton

Please Note: Pre-reception at 2:30 in Room N201.  If you would like to meet with Prof. Ashtekar while he is on campus (at the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics - Boggs building), please contact

General relativity is based on a deep interplay between physics and mathematics: Gravity is encoded in geometry. It has had spectacular observational success and has also pushed forward the frontier of geometric analysis. But the theory is incomplete because it ignores quantum physics. It predicts that the space-time ends at singularities such as the big-bang. Physics then comes to a halt. Recent developments in loop quantum gravity show that these predictions arise because the theory has been pushed beyond the domain of its validity. With new inputs from mathematics, one can extend cosmology beyond the big-bang. The talk will provide an overview of this new and rich interplay between physics and mathematics.