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Final Report Summary - QUANTUM COSMOLOGY (Quantum Gravity and the Early Universe)

The major goals of this project were:

1. Develop and extend the Loop Quantisation approach to cosmological systems with perturbative inhomogeneities.
2. Derive the expected cosmological power spectra for such systems and hence confront these Loop Quantum Gravity cosmological models with precision observational data.
3. Use these inhomogeneous cosmological models to shed light on the challenges facing the development of the full, non-linear theory, in particular use the Hamiltonian and dynamics of the inhomogeneous cosmological models as a guide to understanding the dynamical sector of the full theory.
4. Begin a program of 'Loop Quantising' cosmological models of higher derivative gravity in order to go beyond the phase space of general relativity.

Despite the fact that this project was terminated after seven months, due to a change in personal circumstances, the first two of these goals was achieved and the results published (see the Major Accomplishments section above). Together with two other publications in the same series, this work has been extremely well received by the quantum gravity community and has already been cited more the fifty times. The specific goals and milestones reached are detailed in the following ‘Goals and Milestones’ section.
At the end of the seven month period, the project was approximately four months ahead of schedule.

Several outreach goals were specified in the original proposal, the first two to be completed at four and eight months into the project (see ‘Goals and Milestones’ section below). The first of these was to give a series of talks to Philosophy and other non-physics undergraduates, and was partially completed.
As an invited speaker at a philosophy and physics workshop at Penn State (see Major Accomplishments section above), I had an opportunity to present this work to philosophy students, in addition to other workshop attendees. This was very successful, however it was not the initially envisioned series of talks and hence can only be considered to have been partially successful.
The second outreach goal, ‘Give a series of talks/ presentations to local secondary schools’ was to be completed at month eight, however the project was suspended prior to this stage. In addition to the outreach activities outlined in the original proposal, the work completed in this project was documented by the international popular science magazine ‘New Scientist’ (see Major Accomplishments section above).

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