Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2001 Michael Seifert. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Physics & Astronomy Department

First Advisor

Seth Major


The search for a quantum theory of gravity is one of the major challenges facing theoretical physics today. While no complete theory exists, a promising avenue of research is the loop quantum gravity approach. In this approach, quantum states are represented by spin networks, essentially graphs with weighted edges. Since general relativity predicts the structure of space, any quantum theory of gravity must do so as well; thus, "spatial observables" such as area, volume, and angle are given by the eigenvalues of Hermitian operators on the spin network states. We present results obtained in our investigations of the angle and volume operators, two operators which act on the vertices of spin networks. We find that the minimum observable angle is inversely proportional to the square root of the total spin of the vertex, a fairly slow decrease to zero. We also present numerical results indicating that the angle operator can reproduce the classical angle distribution. The volume operator is significantly harder to investigate analytically; however, we present analytical and numerical results indicating that the volume of a region scales as the 3/2 power of its bounding surface, which corresponds to the classical model of space.