there's a new 3 page paper by Carlo Rovelli and Alejandro Perez http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0505081 Physical effects of the Immirzi parameter "The Immirzi parameter is a constant appearing in the version of the general relativity action utilized as a starting point for the loop quantization of gravity.The parameter is commonly believed not to show up in the equations of motion, because it appears in front of a term in the action that vanishes on shell. We show that in the presence of fermions, instead, the Immirzi term of the action does not vanish on shell, and the Immirzi parameter appears in the equations of motion. It is the coupling constant of a parity violating four-fermion interaction. Therefore the nontriviality of the Immirzi parameter leads to effects that are observables in principle, even independently from nonperturbative quantum gravity." this paper was noted in the Loop-and-allied link library thread where new papers usually just get posted without much discussion https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=570481#post570481 and some interest arose, so maybe we should have a thread devoted to this paper Spin_Network commented that the paper was helpful and ohwilleke had a request for explanation. https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=571326#post571326 BTW this paper cites the recent work of Freidel and Starodubtsev "Quantum Gravity in Terms of Topological Observables" (hep-th/0501191) and also a paper by Stephon Alexander (hep-th/0503146) which IIRC Kea started a thread about here at PF. Both of those papers caused some stir. they both showed the Immirzi parameter playing a significant (and for me unexpected role). Personally I cannot give the "connect-the-dots" clarification that ohwilleke requested, but am hopeful some person or persons here can. You never know who will volunteer.