Beyond Einstein: Quantum Gravity and Dark Energy
Dr. William A. Hiscock
Department of Physics
Montana State University
Since the theory of General Relativity (GR) was developed by Einstein in
1916, it has widely been viewed as the most “beautiful” of all physical theories,
explaining gravity purely in terms of the curved geometry of spacetime. The
search for an extension of GR to a quantum theory of gravity has been widely
viewed as the most important task facing theoretical physics for the past
30 years. In this talk, I will trace some of the most noteworthy developments
in that search, including the theoretical discovery of black hole evaporation
by Hawking in 1974, the ever-growing interest in string theory, and the recent
observational evidence showing that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
This acceleration implies that over 70% of the mass-energy in the universe
is in some form of unknown bizarre “dark energy”, which may provide new clues
to aid in our understanding of the quantum aspects of gravity.