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Quantum Gravity (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics) [Paperback]

Carlo Rovelli
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 17, 2007 0521715962 978-0521715966
Quantum gravity poses the problem of merging quantum mechanics and general relativity, the two great conceptual revolutions in the physics of the twentieth century. The loop and spinfoam approach, presented in this book, is one of the leading research programs in the field. The first part of the book discusses the reformulation of the basis of classical and quantum Hamiltonian physics required by general relativity. The second part covers the basic technical research directions. Appendices include a detailed history of the subject of quantum gravity, hard-to-find mathematical material, and a discussion of some philosophical issues raised by the subject. This fascinating text is ideal for graduate students entering the field, as well as researchers already working in quantum gravity. It will also appeal to philosophers and other scholars interested in the nature of space and time.

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Quantum Gravity (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics) + A First Course in Loop Quantum Gravity
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Editorial Reviews


"This is a truly great book!...a must for someone interested in quantum gravity." -
Mathematical Reviews, Jose A. Zapata

"... an excellent text for graduate courses."
SciTech Book News

Book Description

Quantum gravity is one of the major open problems in theoretical physics. The loop and spinfoam approach, presented in this book, is a leading research program in the field. Emphasis is given to conceptual and foundational issues raised by quantum gravity, especially on the nature of space and time. This text is intended for researchers working in quantum gravity and, in particular, graduate students entering the field. It will also appeal to philosophers and scientists interested in the general issue of the nature of space and time.

Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics
  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521715962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521715966
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,356,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful overview of an alternative theory April 24, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives a detailed overview of that "other theory" of quantum gravity called `loop quantum gravity'. String theory has been viewed by many as a promising theory of quantum gravity and there are many reasons to believe this is the case. String theory though requires a formidable amount of mathematics for its construction, and has yet to have any experimental verification. Therefore, it is not surprising that other alternative theories of quantum gravity would be constructed, these needing a minimal amount of formalism and staying as close as possible to what can be observed. Loop quantum gravity is one of these, and is the most popular alternative to string theory as a theory of quantum gravity.

The initial five chapters of the book motivate the need for quantum gravity and also phrase the theories of general relativity and relativistic quantum physics in a language that will be used to formulate the theory of loop quantum gravity. General relativity (GR) is formulated as a dynamical system defined by the Hamilton-Jacobi equation for a functional defined on the space G of three-dimensional SU(2) connections. The equation is invariant under internal gauge transformations and 3D diffeomorphisms.

The quantization of GR is obtained in terms of complex-valued Schrodinger wave functionals on G. The derivatives of the Hamilton-Jacobi functional are replaced by derivative operators in order to obtain the quantum dynamics. The Hamilton-Jacobi equation then becomes the Wheeler-DeWitt equation governing the quantum dynamics of spacetime. The quantum (kinematical) state space is defined letting G be the space of smooth 3D real connections defined everywhere on a 3D surface S.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity and Precision Prevail December 8, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm experiencing some hesitation as this is hands down the most advanced book that I have ever 'reviewed' and, in fact, ever read. I have only completed Part 1 -"Relativistic Foundations" as I have to go deeper into Differential Geometry before proceeding into Part II - "Loop Quantum Gravity." Part 1 is a pretty amazing, often philosophical introduction both describing the problem that QG is trying to approach (the contradictions between QFT and GR)and laying the foundation for LQG. It becomes clear (slowly) that our notions of space and time need serious overhauling before we can understand what LQG is all about. String theory doesn't have this problem as it more or less uses our 20th century notions of space and time as its framework. Sure, it adds a few dimensions and curls some up but it's pretty much still the same old space and time. LQG does not use this framework and rather seems to work towards a physics without time. Rovelli does a masterful job in Part 1 of slowly, clearly and precisely helping the reader to make this transition. Most memorable to me is his discusson of the ten meanings of time where he demonstrates that we have already stripped time of many of its seemingly inherent properties ('flowing', 'measured' to name 2). He just proposes stripping off a few others! I'm looking forward to Part II.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good LQG book, but title is deceptive March 15, 2006
I have to start by saying that I think the title is very deceptive. This is hardly a book on quantum gravity, more accurately it's a book on one approach to quantum gravity, namely loop quantum gravity. No other approaches to quantum gravity are seriously considered. Even the current leading candidate for providing a quantum theory of gravity, i.e. string theory, is only presented as a straw man to show how poorly it fares (in the author's mind) compared to loop quantum gravity.

The book begins with a brief discussion on general issues in quantum gravity and by presenting some background in general relativity.

He contends that it is wrong to approach quantum gravity by treating general relativity as just another field theory. Two central themes of his approach to quantum gravity seem to be that one should not ignore the fact that general relativity is a theory of spacetime and the correct way to approach finding the quantum theory of gravity (although I don't believe he uses these exact words) is to quantize spacetime. This will lead to spacetime having a discrete structure and will provide a cutoff that will remove the ultraviolet divergences of quantum field theory (this is somewhat different from the way they are removed in string theory). While I agree both of these ideas have a lot of intuitive appeal, it's clear that the jury is still out.

The treatment of general relativity focuses mainly on things that will be useful for developing loop quantum gravity. This includes formulating it in terms of connections (instead of the metric) and presenting it in the Hamiltonian form.
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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent ! a milestone of contemporary physics .... November 23, 2004
These days, a fierce battle is raging between two camps of physicists - strings theory developers and proponents of loop quantum gravity (seems like Amazon is going to be another battlefield :-)) . So far there are no experiments to confirm or reject any of these two theories and it is therefore inevitable to conduct the research in both directions. Rovelli's book seen from this perspective is a major attempt to present a consistent picture of how the LQG fits into the framework of our present knowledge about the world around us. This thoughts provoking book explains the path to the present state of LQG, its current problems and is a great reading not only for active developers but for anyone eager to understand the broader impact of these new physical ideas.

Be warned ! This is not an usual textbook ... You should have a fairly deep understanding of QM, QFT and GR - only then will Rovelli show you how to re-think these ideas from a new point of view.

Still, the rest of us (:-)) can benefit greatly from the crystal clear reasoning and philosofical implications he presents throughout the book.

Note: If you like John Baez books and style - you are going to love this one too ...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book
Quite simply : the most extraordinary book I have never read. It will deeply change your vision of physics. You think you understand quantum mechanics and general realtivity ? Read more
Published on May 8, 2009 by Aurelien Barrau
4.0 out of 5 stars Good books on Quantum Gravity
I'm a new comer to quantum gravity. Although I only have some background in classical mechanics and relativity , I thought the books is quite approachable as most of the terms are... Read more
Published on November 14, 2006 by Mr. Pei Lieh Chuang
5.0 out of 5 stars A change in paradigm
This is a excellent book. Dr. Rovelli is attempting a rare exercise in that he is trying to substantially change a physicists view of the world. Read more
Published on August 2, 2006 by G. T. Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for those ``who are able to think"
It could be that LQG isn't as popular in the physics community as it deserves to bebecause a lot of people don't appreciate an important aspect of classical GR (covered in part I... Read more
Published on January 28, 2006 by Ian Beynon
5.0 out of 5 stars The fifth star is just there to make Motl angry.
It is ironic that in his 30+ paragraph attack on Carlo Rovelli, as in his relentless attacks on the small community of physicists and mathematicians still interested in... Read more
Published on November 21, 2004 by Robert Owen
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong philosophy, incorrect math, not very good book
It is guaranteed that many people who have not seen the book - and who have no idea about physics (for example, linux evangelists) - will write a lot of irrelevant "reviews", but I... Read more
Published on November 20, 2004 by Lubos Motl
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