# Understanding the early Universe: Which theory (or theories) are heading in the right direction?

What actually happened shortly before the Big Bang and shortly thereafter? To date, there are no satisfactory answers to these questions. However, there are different theories and models of quantum gravity which provide - partly contradictory - suppositions about the Big Bang and the early universe. The most well known of these are the string theory and loop quantum gravity.

The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) aim at bringing together cosmologists and theoretical physicists from a wide range of research fields. “We would like to stimulate an intensive and interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge. In this way, we will be able to find answers to questions concerning the development of the early universe,” says Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai, Director at the AEI. “Because this subject is so complex, we tend to navigate principally within our own specialized field. But I am sure that all scientific fields can learn a great deal from one another. Our meeting shall pave the way,” Nicolai continues.

The meeting *Quantum Gravity and Fundamental Cosmology* will take place from 5 to 8 March 2013 at the AEI in Potsdam.

Participants will include:

- Theoretical physicists who are working on various approaches to quantum gravity and who are also focussing on the cosmology of the early universe. Advocates of string theory as well as advocates of loop quantum gravity whose work on a quantum theory of gravity is built upon partly contradictory approaches.
- Cosmologists who are working on fundamental aspects of cosmological models and who are also examining the effects of quantum gravity in the early universe.

The scientists will be addressing the following questions:

- How do the various cosmological models describe the early universe and the development of its structures?
- How do the various cosmological models describe the development of the universe?
- Which questions about quantum gravity arise through the cosmological models?
- What role does quantum gravity play in the early universe?