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The gravitational field of a laser pulse of finite lifetime, is investigated in the framework of linearized gravity. Although the effects are very small, they may be of fundamental physical interest. It is shown that the gravitational field of a linearly polarized light pulse is modulated as the norm of the corresponding electric field strength, while no modulations arise for circular polarization. In general, the gravitational field is independent of the polarization direction. It is shown that all physical effects are confined to spherical shells expanding with the speed of light, and that these shells are imprints of the spacetime events representing emission and absorption of the pulse. Nearby test particles at rest are attracted towards the pulse trajectory by the gravitational field due to the emission of the pulse, and they are repelled from the pulse trajectory by the gravitational field due to its absorption. Examples are given for the size of the attractive effect. It is recovered that massless test particles do not experience any physical effect if they are co-propagating with the pulse, and that the acceleration of massless test particles counter-propagating with respect to the pulse is four times stronger than for massive particles
at rest. The similarities between the gravitational effect of a laser pulse and Newtonian gravity in two dimensions are pointed out. The spacetime curvature close to the pulse is compared to that induced by gravitational waves from astronomical sources.

Famously, Einstein read off the geometry of spacetime from Maxwell's equations. Today, we take this geometry that serious that our fundamental theory of matter, the standard model of particle physics, is based on it. However, it seems that there is a gap in our understanding if it comes to the physics outside of the solar system. Independent surveys show that we need concepts like dark matter and dark energy to make our models fit with the observations. But these concepts do not fit in the standard model of particle physics. To overcome this problem, at least, we have to be open to matter fields with kinematics and dynamics beyond the standard model. But these matter fields might then very well correspond to different spacetime geometries. This is the basis of this thesis: it studies the underlying spacetime geometries and ventures into the quantization of those matter fields independently of any background geometry. In the first part of this thesis, conditions are identified that a general tensorial geometry must fulfill to serve as a viable spacetime structure. Kinematics of massless and massive point particles on such geometries are introduced and the physical implications are investigated. Additionally, field equations for massive matter fields are constructed like for example a modified Dirac equation. In the second part, a background independent formulation of quantum field theory, the general boundary formulation, is reviewed. The general boundary formulation is then applied to the Unruh effect as a testing ground and first attempts are made to quantize massive matter fields on tensorial spacetimes.