Open Questions: Quantum Cosmology

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See also: Quantum theory -- Quantum gravity -- Cosmic inflation


Wave function of the universe

No-boundary hypothesis

Imaginary time

Pea instantons

Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books


Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes

Open Directory Project: Quantum Cosmology
Categorized and annotated links. A version of this list is at Google, with entries sorted in "page rank" order. May also be found at Netscape.

Sites with general resources

The Life of the Cosmos
Web site maintained by the author, Lee Smolin, for material related to his book.

Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Quantum Cosmology
Part of the Cambridge Relativity site. Presents a detailed overview of quantum cosmology and instantons.
Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?
December 2008 article from New Scientist. Explores the idea of loop quantum cosmology and theories of Abhay Ashtekar, including the possibility that the universe has "bounced" from a state of high density.
A quantum leap for cosmology
November 2001 article from Physics World, by Lee Smolin. "A theory that unites quantum mechanics and general relativity claims that there was no first moment in time, but it still agrees with the predictions of classical cosmology."
Quantum Cosmology Lectures
Presented by Don N. Page in 1994. Quantum cosomology is the quantum theory of the universe. The theory is needed because general relativity breaks down at singularities (such as exist at the initial state of the universe).
Wave Function of the Universe(s)
Very brief overview.
The Decay of the False Vacuum
1983 article by Sten Odenwald from Astronomy
The Planck Era
1984 article by Sten Odenwald from Astronomy
Beyond the Big Bang
1987 article by Sten Odenwald from Astronomy
Space-Time: The Final Frontier
1996 article by Sten Odenwald from Sky and Telescope.
A survey on quantum cosmology
Short article by Paulo Vargas-Moniz.
The Essence of Supersymmetric Quantum Cosmology
Short article by Paulo Vargas-Moniz.

Technical papers

Populating the Landscape: A Top Down Approach
2006 paper by S. W. Hawking and Thomas Hertog. It proposes a framework for cosmology that combines the string landscape with no boundary initial conditions. The basic idea is to consider the initial state of the universe as a superposition of all possible states. Conclusions are derived about these initial states based on observational information from (e. g.) the cosmic microwave background.
Quantum Cosmology and Eternal Inflation
2002 expository lecture by Alexander Vilenkin. Part 1 deals with the tunneling approach to quantum cosmology. Part 2 discusses the relation of quantum cosmology and Vilenkin's theory of eternal inflation.
An Introduction to Quantum Cosmology
Notes from 1995 lectures by D. L. Wiltshire on quantum cosmology, given to an audience with interests ranging from astronomy to particle physics. Postscript, PDF, and other formats. Also here.

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Why is There Life?
Brad Lemley
Discover, November 2000, pp. 64-69
Martin Rees has observed that six physical constants must have their observed values in order for life to exist in our universe. The best explanation of this circumstance is the existence of an infinite number of what Andre Linde calls "self-reproducing inflationary universes", each of which may have different values of the six constants.
Just 6 Numbers
Martin Rees
Astronomy, July 2000, pp. 54-59
The author explains the six physical constants which seems to have exactly the right values to allow life to exist. Since there is no known theory that establishes what these numbers must be, it is may be there are multiple universes where all possible values are found, guaranteeing at least one (ours) that allows life.
Give Peas a Chance
Tom Yulsman
Astronomy, September 1999, pp. 38-46
The inflationary big bang theory says nothing about what "caused" the event. A new theoretical construct called a "pea instanton" and invented by Neil Turok and Stephen Hawking may provide a more precise model as well as testable predictions.
Cooking Up a Cosmos
Alan H. Guth
Astronomy, September 1997, pp. 54-57
The universe as we know it may have originated in a process known as decay of the false vacuum. It is conceivable that an advanced civilization could produce this effect in a laboratory.
Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing?
James Trefil
Astronomy, July 1997, pp. 56-57
In quantum mechanics, a vacuum is not quite the same as nothing. It can contain the origin of a universe like ours.
What Happened Before the Big Bang?
Michio Kaku
Astronomy, May 1996, pp. 34-41
Multiple universes may be continually forming due to quantum fluctuations in the vacuum of a "multiverse".
Quantum Cosmology and the Creation of the Universe
Jonathan J. Halliwell
Scientific American, December 1991, pp. 76-85
Conventional cosmological theories of the universe are incomplete because they fail to explain or even describe the singularity out of which the universe seems to have emerged. Quantum cosmology attempts to improve on this by considering the wave function of the whole universe.
The Edge of Spacetime
S. W. Hawking
American Scientist, July-August 1984, pp 355-359
General relativity predicts that the universe has a boundary and time a beginning. This introduces the problem of determining the boundary conditions. Quantum mechanics suggests that spacetime is finite but without boundary. A "no boundary" hypothesis is theoretically and philosophically attractive.

Recommended references: Books

Lee Smolin -- The Life of the Cosmos
Oxford University Press, 1997
An outstanding book that speculates on how multiple universes created out of processes inside black holes could "evolve" towards a universe such as ours which has just the right characteristics to support life. It attempts to relate fundamental theories and ideas from big bang cosmology, particle physics, general relativity, and possible new concepts of spacetime.
[Book home page]
[Book review]


Copyright © 2002 by Charles Daney, All Rights Reserved