John Baez

Lecture at the Dirac Centenary Conference

October 1, 2002

Building Spacetime from Spin

Dirac's work on spinors has had a great impact throughout mathematics and physics. His work on "extensors" is far less well-known, but also interesting. Here we focus on the applications of these ideas to quantum gravity. In loop quantum gravity, the gravitational field is described in terms of its effect on the parallel transport of spin-1/2 test particles, leading to a formalism in which the quantum geometry of space is described using "spin networks". This theory makes specific predictions concerning the discreteness of geometrical observables such as area and volume, and gives an interesting picture of the microstates of a black hole. However, to address questions of dynamics, we also need a picture of the quantum geometry of spacetime. Recently the notion of "spin foam" has emerged as a interesting candidate, in which extensors may play an important role.

Click on this to see the slides as a PDF file:

Thanks go to Derek Wise for scanning in these slides.

For more on this subject try these papers:

© 2002 John Baez