## An Update on Solar Time

Martin Blood-Forsythe '10 | July 3, 2009On the physics front Alex and I have continued to make progress with our understanding of the Ashtekar variables. We haven’t done anything particularly new or exciting with them yet because we’re still aquatinting ourselves with the formalism. One thing about theory work in gravitation is that there is a tremendous body of literature out there that takes a lot of work to even begin to understand the basics (true in all research really but it gets accentuated a bit in theory work because everyone has their own unique notation so the equations don’t even look the same from paper to paper). But the basic idea behind the Ashtekar variables is that they provide a way of writing the theory of general relativity that draws some pretty neat connections between gravity and Yang-Mills field theories (basically fancy mathematical descriptions of the three non-gravitational forces: electromagnetic, weak, and strong). The advantage of this is that if you are interested in writing down a quantized theory of gravity this formalism allows you to take advantage of the large body of clever mathematics and quantization schemes that come from work on Yang-Mills field theories.

To give you a better sense of our local environment I’ve included some more pictures of what we see every day. We’re not quite sure what’s being done to the sidewalks and curbing but we seem to be surrounded by construction on three sides. Walks in other parts of the city rapidly become more pleasant. Although Santander is hilly I find it to be a very enjoyable little city to walk around. However, our favorite walk is not very far: to the bakery that is in the bottom of our building!

We keep hoping there will be more reports before you head for home in a few days. Ellen & Alan