Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity
One century after the seminal balloon flights of Victor Hess, the Pierre Auger Observatory aims at unveiling some of the mysteries of the highest-energy cosmic rays: what are their sources? Is there an end to the spectrum? What kind of particles are they? Are there signatures of new physics or of a violation of fundamental laws of physics? The Auger Observatory measures cosmic rays with energies of 10^20 eV or more by observing the giant air showers created when the particles hit the atmosphere.
The high flux and variability of the blazar PKS 2155-304 as observed by H.E.S.S. during the night of 28 July 2006 allowed a very high precision search for Quantum Gravity-induced energy-dependent time lags. In this talk, I will review the results published by the H.E.S.S. collaboration on this topic. In particular, I will emphasize the latest results obtained using a likelihood fit to study individual photon data.
Current approaches to the problems of dark energy and unification generically predict the existence of new fields (quintessence dilatons etc.) that will in principle couple with different strengths to different standard-model fields. These different coupling strengths will cause test materials of different compositions to fall at different rates in the same gravitational field violating the Equivalence Principle the foundation of General Relativity.