Loop quantum cosmology (LQC) is the result of applying principles of loop quantum gravity (LQG) to cosmological settings. The distinguishing feature of LQC is the prominent role played by the quantum geometry effects of LQG. In particular, quantum geometry creates a brand new repulsive force which is totally negligible at low spacetime curvature but rises very rapidly in the Planck regime, overwhelming the classical gravitational attraction. In cosmological models, while Einstein's equations hold to an excellent degree of approximation at low curvature, they undergo major modifications in the Planck regime: for matter satisfying the usual energy conditions, any time a curvature invariant grows to the Planck scale, quantum geometry effects dilute it, thereby resolving singularities of general relativity. Quantum geometry corrections become more sophisticated as the models become richer. In particular, in anisotropic models, there are significant changes in the dynamics of shear potentials which tame their singular behavior in striking contrast to older results on anisotropies in bouncing models. Once singularities are resolved, the conceptual paradigm of cosmology changes and one has to revisit many of the standard issues - e.g. the 'horizon problem' - from a new perspective. Such conceptual issues as well as potential observational consequences of the new Planck scale physics are being explored, especially within the inflationary paradigm. These considerations have given rise to a burst of activity in LQC in recent years, with contributions from quantum gravity experts, mathematical physicists and cosmologists. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of the current state of the art in LQC for three sets of audiences: young researchers interested in entering this area; the quantum gravity community in general and cosmologists who wish to apply LQC to probe modifications in the standard paradigm of the early universe. In this review, effort has been made to streamline the material so that each of these communities can read only the sections they are most interested in, without loss of continuity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)