Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity
I will review the shortcomings of the standard account of the origin of anisotropies and in-homogeneities in inflationary cosmology. I will argue that something beyond the established paradigm of physics in needed for a satisfactory explanation of the process by which the seeds of structure emerge from the inflaton vacuum and will consider the application of a generalization of the ideas of R Penrose about a quantum gravity induced dynamical collapse of the quantum mechanical state of a system as a promising avenue to address the issue.
The possible existence of a physical UV cutoff in dynamical spacetimes raises a number of conceptual and practical questions. If the validity of Lorentz Invariance is considered unreliable above the cutoff, the creation or destruction of quantum modes and the choice of their initial state need to be described explicitly. It has been proposed that these trans-Planckian effects might leave an oscillatory imprint on the power spectrum of inflationary perturbations. However, taking into account the fluctuations of the cutoff, the signal is smeared out beyond recognition.
Quantum fluctuations of spacetime give rise to quantum foam, and black hole physics dictates that the foam is of holographic type. One way to detect quantum foam is to exploit the fact that an electromagnetic wavefront will acquire uncertainties in direction as well as phase as it propagates through spacetime. These uncertainties can show up in interferometric observations of distant quasars as a decreased fringe visibility.
Quantum Gravity may be entirely unconventional as a theory, leading to completely unfamiliar (compared to other fields of physics) and unexpected experimental signatures. One particularly interesting avenue for research in that field is the study of models in which quantum gravity operates as a decoherening ``foamy space-time medium\'\', with which ordinary propagating matter interacts.