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Michael Douglas gets in our good books

  1. Apr 1, 2006 #1


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    At the end of a recent talk he gave at Perimeter
    (on the string landscape and the intractability of related computation)
    Michael Douglas said

    "I certainly think more people should be working on alternatives to string theory..."

    This struck me as a nice sensible thing for a prominent string theorist to be saying---unlike what we may have come to expect from others who have often claimed that string theory is the only this or the only that or "our best hope", or who have argued that none of the alternatives can possibly succeed. There may be a wish to be the "only game in town" which leads some to a kind of monopolistic catechism.

    One sign of change was that Harvard's Andy Strominger took quite a different stance last summer at Toronto Strings '05 conference. He said there were good reasons why one might choose NOT to do string, and want to pursue alternatives. He indicated that the problem he encountered was naive string optimism among Harvard grad students (whom he presumably would need to douse with cold water) and not the opposite. Strominger took a balanced view that there were interesting problems to explore in both areas---string and non-string QG.

    'Til today I hadn't heard Michael Douglas take a similiarly balanced position. So I welcome it very much. Especially since Douglas has been one of the more hopeful of those researching the Landscape. The 10200 or 10500 different versions of physics which string thinkers so far have found no way to select from.
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  3. Apr 1, 2006 #2


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    Before I become an all out fan of Michael Douglas I will wait to see if the Rutgers group invites some young non-string quantum gravitist to join.

    the Rutgers theory group is top notch and that is partly Douglas doing. He has to be one of those who built the department up to be (at least in stringy pursuits) world class. I will see if he puts his research support money where his mouth is ("more people should be working on alternatives") and invites someone like Hanno Sahlmann, or Etera Livine, or Bianca Dittrich, or Laurent Freidel to give a talk at Rutgers---introducing their work.

    If you want to watch Douglas seminar talk go to

    and select the "seminar series"----you will see Douglas on the seminar menu among the most recent talks.
    If you are in a hurry to get to the end, where people ask him questions, then when the talk starts, you skip to the last slide:
    you just select "slide list" and the last page of slide list, and scroll to the last slide and start from that point. So you get like the last 5 or so minutes of the talk.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
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