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A First Course in Loop Quantum Gravity [Hardcover]

Rodolfo Gambini , Jorge Pullin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2011 0199590753 978-0199590759
This book provides an accessible introduction to loop quantum gravity and some of its applications, at a level suitable for undergraduate students and others with only a minimal knowledge of college level physics. In particular it is not assumed that the reader is familiar with general relativity and only minimally familiar with quantum mechanics and Hamiltonian mechanics. Most chapters end with problems that elaborate on the text, and aid learning. Applications such as loop quantum cosmology, black hole entropy and spin foams are briefly covered. The text is ideally suited for an undergraduate course in the senior year of a physics major. It can also be used to introduce undergraduates to general relativity and quantum field theory as part of a 'special topics' type of course.

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Editorial Reviews


"Gambini and Pullin have written an excellent and truly introductory book, aimed at the undergraduate level, which fills a gap in the existing literature, and responds to the growing interest in this subject. " - Carlo Rovelli, Aix-Marseille University, France
From Oxford University Press' website.

... the first book on this topic that is accessible already to undergraduates. No previous knowledge of general relativity and quantum field theory is required... The authors present the key features of loop quantum gravity, but also do not hide its weak points.  - Claus Kiefer, University of Cologne, Germany From Oxford University Press' website

About the Author

Rodolfo Gambini did his undergraduate work at the University of the Republic of Uruguay, went for a Ph.D. at the University of Paris and joined the faculty at the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. He returned to Uruguay in 1997 where he has been director of several government funding agencies in addition to being a Professor at the University of the Republic. He has won the Trieste Prize in Physics, the presidential prize for scientific accomplishment in Uruguay and received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Republic.

Jorge Pullin did his undergraduate work at the Instituto Balseiro in Bariloche, Argentina, did his Ph.D. thesis work at the University of Cordoba and moved as a post-doc to Syracuse University and the University of Utah. He became a faculty member at PennState and in 2001 joined the Louisiana State University as the Horace
Hearne Chair in Theoretical Physics. He is the co-director of the Horace Hearne Institute of Theoretical Physics and the interim co-director of the Center for Computation and Technology at the Louisiana State University. He was the chair of the Topical Group in Gravitation of the American Physical Society and served on the editorial boards of Classical and Quantum Gravity and the New Journal of Physics and is currently on the board of Living Reviews, Papers in Physics and is managing editor of International Journal of Modern Physics D.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199590753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199590759
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a real introduction to the field. December 28, 2011
If you are looking for an introduction to Loop Quantum Gravity that *really* guides you through every *minimum* required piece of knowledge at the basis of this field, including an outline of the mathematics involved, in order to put you in a comfortable position to enter the research literature, then there is (currently) no better place to start.

It has always been a mystery to me why Rovelli's book, for instance, is generally considered as "introductory". Although it is a very well written book by one of the experts in the field, and obligatory reading for those seriously interested in studying the matter, readers who had never - or only slightly - been exposed to Loop Quantum Gravity will find it quite advanced at various places. The same occurs with other similar books in this field, considered "introductory": they may be so at places, but... only to the extent of your background, which seems an amusing way to put it, if not frustrating: "introductory-but-not-exactly-so".

That does not happen with Gambini and Pullin's book. It is indeed the only current *real* introductory, (not laymen, but mathematically-based!), self-study textbook on Loop Quantum Gravity. All other current books in the field - Rovelli's, Kiefer's, Thiemann's, etc - are excellent references to be studied *after* Gambini and Pullin's book. Finally, the basics of Loop Quantum Gravity is available in textbook form!

"A First Course in Loop Quantum Gravity" is in fact aimed at the advanced undergraduate level, and it does a great job to follow that difficult requirement. However, it is unavoidable that even an average reader at that level will have to accept some concepts without further detailed background.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the first step on a thousand mile journey April 28, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many non-experts who are interested in physics know that the current theory of gravity, Einstein's general theory of relativity, stands apart from the theories of the other three fundamental forces, the electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and strong nuclear forces, in that the former is a classical theory whereas the latter are quantum theories. Physicists like to unify things, so they would like to have the theory of gravity be a quantum theory as well, so they can then have a "theory of everything". In addition to being satisfying on a philosophical and esthetic level, this would also potentially be able to explain what's going on at the center of black holes and at the "beginning" of the Big Bang, for which general relativity gives a singularity, an unphysical point of infinite energy density indicating that general relativity is no longer properly describing the physical reality in these situations.

One approach to a quantum theory of gravity is the famous (perhaps infamous) "string theory". Another approach, the approach discussed in this book, is loop quantum gravity, in which a more traditional approach to quantizing the gravitational field is employed. In a nutshell, loop quantum gravity is a canonical quantization of a modification of the Hamiltonian formulation of general relativity originally developed by Arnowitt, Deser, and Misner in the early 1960s ("ADM formalism"), said modification being the replacement of the position and momentum variables used by ADM with a new set of variables introduced by Ashtekar in the 1980s. Canonical quantization refers to the quantization procedure based on the Hamiltonian originally developed by Dirac in the 1920s and further developed by him in the 1950s.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Alternative To String Theory December 13, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Loop quantum gravity is an alternative to the string theory approach for quantizing the gravitational field. I purchased this volume as part of a program of self-study in quantum gravity, mainly because the string theories (which also encompass quantum physics, and are touted as being a unifying theory of all physical forces) have yet to provide testable predictions of new physics, despite their relative popularity within theoretical physics circles. (A reader seeking sophisticated background in the strings vs. loop quantum theory would make a good investment in Roger Penrose's 'The Road to Reality'. For a decidedly anti-string treatment, Lee Smolin, a physicist at Princeton, has written several books outlining his skepticism regarding superstrings, in prose that is considerably less mathematical than Penrose.)

Returning to the book at hand, Prof. Gambini is an engaging writer whose treatment of early chapters has motivated me to jump headlong into the more involved material in the second half of the book. As such, I am at the beginning of my work, and this review reflects a relatively fresh understanding of aspects of loop quantum gravity. Early chapters handle the basic results of Riemannian geometry and metrics in curved spaces that are relevant to General Relativity (GR). These are the tools of classical GR, which is well established as a valid descriptor of gravitation as we experience it billions of years after the Big Bang. I was fortunate enough have an undergraduate course in GR, without which I might have been snowed by the tensors and connections (mathematical constructs) necessary for the basic study of GR as we know it.
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