Spin Foams with Matter: section 8 of Marcolli's paper, LQG/NCG roadmap, comments?

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marcus

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Happily enough, Haelfix elaborated. And Atyy concurred. We also have an arxiv link to check out. I think the claim is interesting (any QG+matter theory would suffer from a landscape predicament), but it doesn't really fit into the "REAL string disappointment" thread, so I will copy the posts here:


I would hope that a reader would realize that what I am saying is that in fact it DOES apply broadly to any tentative theory of matter.

What we now know, which wasn't necessarily appreciated a few years ago, is that a landscape of meta stable vacua is not just a truism about KKLT in string theory, but also a *generic* property of quantum field theory (and not just supersymmetric ones) including the standard model.

That is to say, any theory (under a reasonable set of conditions like having a reasonable scalar spectrum) that wishes to include gravity, and that contains a small cosmological constant and that possesses the standard model as an effective field theory at low energies also necessarily has a large landscape of metastable vacua.

Nima, Michael Dine and a few others have convincingly shown this, and I emphasize again that it is completely independant of the nature or properties of any tentative UV completion at high energies.

See for instance arXiv:hep-th/0703067
In fact, Haelfix's claim is self-evidently correct.
I'm hoping someone will explain. Let's have a look at http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0703067

It is possible that Haelfix has already waffled or retracted what he said, since what he now seems to be saying has been much qualified by new conditions.
The new conditions may, if examined closely, presuppose that the QG+matter theory is to be imagined in some straitjacket format not mentioned in the original claim.
 
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marcus

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In fact, Haelfix's claim is self-evidently correct.
which one? regarding the landscape issue?
Yes, the one about a theory of gravity which can couple to any form of matter.
I'd like to shift discussion of Haelfix generic landscape claim over to this thread so as not to distract from the original thread's focus on string.

The claim as originally stated is:
The landscape problem of quantum gravity (really high energy physics) is not going to go away and will be a generic problem for any approach, even if they havent studied or appreciated it yet.
...
[Any] high energy theory of gravity that can arbitrarily couple any matter without constraints, will automatically have an (infinitely) worse landscape problem.



BTW it should be pointed out that the string landscape problem, really I think better termed a predicament, is the absence of a selection principle and despair of finding one. It is not simply that there are a range of solutions. It is quite possible for a theory to have adjustable parameters and to come in an infinity of versions---but not to run afoul on that account, given a clear route to selecting the right version.


Haelfix offered an arxiv link---but the article does not address the main issue. It is an article from back in 2007 by Arkani-Hamed and others. It shows that the Standard Model+gravity has a range of versions (in lower dimensions than 4D) which can be easily excluded. There is no landscape problem/predicament. The article itself points out that (effective) SM+gravity has a unique 4D vacuum.
 
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marcus

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So the question is, here is an approach to QG+M and does it necessarily face a severe landscape problem (worse than string). I'm not sure you can prove that it faces any landscape problem at all, but anyway that's the issue.

AFAIK here is the latest word on the string landscape predicament:
http://pcts.princeton.edu/pcts/bigbang/Program-11-21-08.pdf

There was a November 2008 mini-symposium at Princeton with a panel discussion on the landscape (Tom Banks, Nathan Seiberg, Nima Arkani-Hamed...) Peter Woit attended and we have his notes on what each of the participants said. I will quote excerpts. The different views expressed were, I think, illuminating.

==portions from http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=1285 ==
The Landscape at Princeton
The Princeton Center for Theoretical Science has been having a mini-symposium on the string theory Landscape, and as part of this today hosted a “panel discussion” on the topic. It turns out that there’s not a lot of support for the Landscape in Princeton.

Michael Douglas was the only real Landscape proponent in evidence. He gave a presentation on the state of Landscape studies, beginning by noting that landscapeologists keep finding more possible string vacua. Evidently the 10^500 number always quoted for the number of semi-realistic vacua is no longer operative, with latest estimates more like 10^(10^5) or higher. Douglas acknowledged that this pretty much removes any hope of making predictions by using experiment to fix this freedom and end up with non-trivial constraints...

Tom Banks began by claiming that the effective field theory picture used in the landscape is just not valid. He also pointed out that if the landscape arguments were valid, the landscape would be disconfirmed by experiment, since 10-20 of the Standard Model parameters are unconstrained by anthropics, but take unusually small values, not the random distribution one would expect. Banks takes the attitude that the CC probably has an anthropic explanation, but not particle physics or the SM parameters. He also attacked the usual claims that different vacua are all states of the same theory, arguing that they instead correspond to different theories. Finally, he pointed out that the one prediction that landscapeologists had claimed they would be able to make, the scale of SSYM breaking, hadn’t worked out at all (Douglas now acknowledges that this can’t be done).

Nati Seiberg then argued that, as one gets to deeper and deeper levels of understanding of particle physics, one might reach a level where the only explanations are environmental and have to give up. He sees no reason for that to be the case now, with the main problem that of EWSB, and nothing to indicate that anthropics has anything to do with the problem. Rather, the problem is there because we haven’t had high enough energy accelerators (the LHC should change that), and the problem is hard. He ended by saying that the appropriate response at the present time to anthropic arguments like the Landscape is to just ignore them.

The last speaker was Nima Arkani-Hamed, who I suppose was chosen as a proponent of anthropics. He didn’t live up to this, saying that he pretty much agreed with Seiberg... About the cosmological issues brought up by Douglas, his opinion is that there’s probably no point to thinking about these questions now, doing so might be like trying to come up with a theory of superconductivity in 1903. As far as EWSB goes, he believes the LHC will show us a non-anthropic explanation for its scale.

He explicitly attacked the discussion of measures that Douglas had engaged in as “not fruitful”, saying that he didn’t see any “endgame”, that it was wildly improbably that these could predict anything about particle physics... He went on to argue for the currently fashionable enterprise of studying S-matrix amplitudes, arguing that looking at the local physics embodied in Lagrangians was no longer so interesting, that instead one should be trying to understand questions where locality is not manifest.

Finally, Arkani-Hamed ended with the statement that string theory is useful as a way to study questions about quantum gravity, but “unlikely to tell us anything about particle physics”. This is an opinion that has become quite widespread among theorists, but news of this has not gotten out to the popular media, where the idea that string theory has something to do with the LHC keeps coming up.

So, all in all, I found myself in agreement with most of the speakers...
==endquote==
 
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atyy

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My guess is that what we call landscape problem is due to the fact that we have one great achievement in string theory, namely that it turned theories into solutions / vacua. That is nice, but it does not make all the theories go away. There seems to be not so much difference whether there is a landscape of theories or a landscape of vacua :-)
I had in mind the landscape of theories in any theory of pure gravity that can couple arbitrarily to matter. This is the "bewildering number of possibilities" Percacci mentions in http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.0386"Let [Broken] us assume for a moment that this ambitious goal can be achieved, and that pure gravity can be shown to be asymptotically safe. Still, from the point of view of phenomenology, we could not be satisfied because the real world contains also dozens of matter fields ... More generally the asymptotic safety program requires that the fully interacting theory of gravity and matter has a FP with the right properties. Given the bewildering number of possibilities, in the search for such a theory one needs some guiding principle."

From a condensed matter point of view, the landscape is not a problem - since condensed matter is all about studying the landscape!
 
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MTd2

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From a condensed matter point of view, the landscape is not a problem - since condensed matter is all about studying the landscape!
We, just have 1 universe to test!
 

marcus

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I had in mind the landscape of theories in any theory of pure gravity that can couple arbitrarily to matter. This is the "bewildering number of possibilities" Percacci mentions in http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.0386
"Let us assume for a moment that this ambitious goal can be achieved, and that pure gravity can be shown to be asymptotically safe. Still, from the point of view of phenomenology, we could not be satisfied because the real world contains also dozens of matter fields ... More generally the asymptotic safety program requires that the fully interacting theory of gravity and matter has a FP with the right properties. Given the bewildering number of possibilities, in the search for such a theory one needs some guiding principle."
...
But Atyy, you have not offered any evidence of a landscape problem! Your paper shows Percacci immediately applying a readily available selection principle to narrow down the (comparatively modest) range of possibilities.

He may have used the word "bewildering" at the start of the paper to highlight the challenge he is undertaking, but he does not act in any way bewildered. Nor does he desperately invoke "anthropics" as Susskind did for string in 2003. He forges right ahead and applies the Wetterich method of "effective average action" ---see the blue highlight in the quote below.

At least wait until the AsymSafe people cry "Help!" before you conclude they are in trouble. :biggrin: Or until you see them thrashing aimlessly around.

Many seem prone to an unfortunate tendency, whenever one hears of some snag or drawback in the string program, to project it on all the other approaches and believe (or pretend) they have it worse. Either it's not a problem, or string doesn't really have the problem, or all the other approaches have it worse.

You have probably picked up on this. I recall a couple of years back a discussion of the "no background geometry" feature where I was told seriously that LQG was not background independent and that string was much more independent than everybody else (LQG, CDT).
There is a kind of compulsion to bend the words so that it always comes out like that.

Here's the context of the Percacci passage quoted above, in case anyone is interested:

==quote Percacci 0911. ==
The original motivation for this work comes fromthe progress that has been made in recent years towards understanding the UVbehaviour of gravity. It seems that pure gravity possesses a Fixed Point (FP) with the right properties to make it asymptotically safe, or in other words nonperturbatively renormalizable [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 39] (see also [20] for reviews). Let us assume for a moment that this ambitious goal can be achieved, and that pure gravity can be shown to be asymptotically safe. Still, from the point of view of phenomenology, we could not be satisfied because the real world contains also dozens of matter fields that interact in other ways than gravitationally, and their presence affects also the quantum properties of the gravitational field, as is known since long[21].

Indeed, in a first investigation along these lines, it was shown in [22] that the presence of minimally coupled (i.e. nonself-interacting) matter fields shifts the position of the gravitational FP and the corresponding critical exponents. In some cases the FP ceases to exist, so it was suggested that this could be used to put bounds on the number of matter fields of each spin.

More generally the asymptotic safety program requires that the fully interacting theory of gravity and matter has a FP with the right properties. Given the bewildering number of possibilities, in the search for such a theory one needs some guiding principle. One possibility that naturally suggests itself is that all matter self-interactions are asymptotically free[33]. Then, asymptotic safety requires the existence of a FP where the matter couplings approach zero in the UV, while the gravitational sector remains interacting.

We will call such a FP a “Gaussian Matter FP” or GMFP. Following a time honored tradition,as a first step in this direction, scalar self interactions have been studied in [34, 35]. Here we pursue that study further. The tool that we use is the Wetterich equation, an exact renormalization group (RG) flow equation for a type of Wilsonian effective action Γk , called the “effective average action”. This functional, depending on an external energy scale k, can be formally defined by...
==endquote==
 
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marcus

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So I guess there are three approaches to QG+matter that stand out, where one could ask "do they necessarily lead to intractable landscapes?"

Atyy recently posted about one, citing papers by Livine.
Essentially the approach is combined spinfoam+Feynman diagram:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=2809599#post2809599

Approaches to QG+matter that don't seem to suffer landscape pains. :biggrin:

1. Spinfoam+Feynman single unified package---papers Atyy pointed to.

2. Spinfoam+NCG---this thread, there was a whole workshop devoted to this organized by Marcolli, so it is lots of people. Jesper Grimstrup was one of the early ones e.g. 2007.

3. AsymSafe QG+matter---Atyy also pointed me to this, citing a paper by Percacci, where he first acknowledges the complexity of coupling matter to QG, and then proceeds to attack it with the tools at hand. No sense that the range of variation is intractable or that one lacks principles of selection in this case.
 

Haelfix

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Marcus, I think I have wasted enough of my time on this topic for now, and will not continue the discussion.

The reason I won't continue the discussion is because it is glaringly obvious that you have no idea what we are talking about and clearly lack the correct background to even begin to have a sensible conversation about the specifics.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of specifics regarding eg moduli stabilization and AdS/CFT, and I don't expect a layman to understand everything, however I do expect some amount of civility and some intellectual integrity to admit when you are way out of your depth.

I post on these boards to try to help people learn something about physics, including bits and pieces of the cutting edge material found in modern research. I don't post on these boards to get into arguments with amateurs who obfuscate facts with a wall of text and a bunch of utter nonsense. I'll leave viewers with the following quote by the authors of the paper.

"The phenomenon that a unique action may give rise to an infinite number of vacua is not a special feature of Superstring/SUSY theories, it is also a feature of the minimal Standard Model!"
 

marcus

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"The phenomenon that a unique action may give rise to an infinite number of vacua is not a special feature of Superstring/SUSY theories, it is also a feature of the minimal Standard Model!"
However one does not see field theorists concerned with the Standard Model resorting to appeals to the Anthropic Principle.

By itself a large range or landscape does not constitute a problem. In some circumstances you can get an infinite number of solutions just by varying one parameter. String, however, has encountered a severe landscape predicament, which to many appears intractable. Your claim that any other treatment of QG+matter would necessarily meet with the same or worse predicament is unsupported by logic or evidence. I've explained this already and won't repeat here.

The 2007 paper Haelfix mentioned (I think pointlessly) is:
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0703067
in case anyone wants to check it out.
The passage quoted is on page 3, at the start of section 2:
==quote==
2. The Standard Model Landscape
We will now show that the action of the minimal Standard Model (SM) plus General Relativity (GR) has more than one distinct vacuum, actually a true landscape of vacua.
==endquote==

However, so what? the existence of extra vacua does not cause us trouble since we know how to use the SM predictively. It is a somewhat contrived "landscape" but it does not represent a landscape problem. One shouldn't have to say this.
 
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atyy

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But Atyy, you have not offered any evidence of a landscape problem! Your paper shows Percacci immediately applying a readily available selection principle to narrow down the (comparatively modest) range of possibilities.

He may have used the word "bewildering" at the start of the paper to highlight the challenge he is undertaking, but he does not act in any way bewildered. Nor does he desperately invoke "anthropics" as Susskind did for string in 2003. He forges right ahead and applies the Wetterich method of "effective average action" ---see the blue highlight in the quote below.

At least wait until the AsymSafe people cry "Help!" before you conclude they are in trouble. :biggrin: Or until you see them thrashing aimlessly around.
I didn't say AS was in trouble. But I do imply that similarly, string theory is not in trouble.
 

marcus

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Atyy, I really like the recent post by "Surprised"! I imagine you have seen it. It is a modest frank account of string limitations which conveys a sense of integrity and leaves room for other approaches.

Too often we get misleading half-truths, obfuscation, defensiveness. There's a kind of kneejerk reaction that whatever could be wrong with the string program must be twice as wrong with the other approaches. It would be unthinkable to acknowledge a strong point in a rival program, or a weakness on one's side which doesn't equally afflict the others.

Maybe I'll copy some of "Surprised" post here so we can reflect on it conveniently without distracting from the "What I REALLY don't like..." thread. At this point it seems to me that criticising the string program is becoming more and more irrelevant. What interests me is to see how it leaves room for other approaches, and what new stuff the others bring.

Especially where there seems to be some handle on both QG and matter. It is the background independent QG+matter potential (and the cosmology potential) that seem so interesting.
 

marcus

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For continuity I'll recall the three QG+M approaches listed earlier.

So I guess there are three approaches to QG+matter that stand out...
==quote post #==
So I guess there are three approaches to QG+matter that stand out,...

Atyy recently posted about one, citing papers by Livine.
Essentially the approach is combined spinfoam+Feynman diagram:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=2809599#post2809599

Approaches to QG+matter that don't seem to suffer ... pains. :biggrin:

1. Spinfoam+Feynman single unified package---papers Atyy pointed to.

2. Spinfoam+NCG---this thread, there was a whole workshop devoted to this organized by Marcolli, so it is lots of people. Jesper Grimstrup was one of the early ones e.g. 2007.

3. AsymSafe QG+matter---Atyy also pointed me to this, citing a paper by Percacci, where he first acknowledges the complexity of coupling matter to QG, and then proceeds to attack it with the tools at hand. No sense that ... one lacks principles of selection in this case.

==endquote==

Perhaps, as you just suggested, the range of variation is a non-issue here---I deleted references to it---let's just look at these approaches on their merits (not as part of some obtuse argument with the volunteer string defense.)

Here's a link to parts of "Surprised"'s excellent post, which I thought were particularly valuable:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=2828122#post2828122
 
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marcus

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I will highlight parts of "Surprised" post which I think point to where there is room for other approaches (QG+matter) such as those listed above. Possible areas to work on, features to try to achieve. Things which as observers we can be on the look-out for.
Here is the original:
...It is simply not so...
==quote with highlighting==
It is simply not so that one is able to compute anything, even for a completely well-defined theory (try to analytically compute the hadron spectrum from the QCD langrangian, eg. And anything having to do with gravity is going to be much more complicated). So that's why supersymmetric toy models are so useful - as many things can be computed, sometimes even exactly. This is a quite non-trivial feat and source of a lot of excitement, as well as of many conceptual insights. Whether one would ever be able to get beyond studying toy models.. I don't know, but I doubt it.

Originally Posted by tom.stoer
; but what I still do not understand in all details is how one can argue that string theory fully incorporates gravity as dynamical background independent geometry.​

I don't think that anyone claims this!

Originally Posted by tom.stoer
Looking at the string theory action it uses a fixed metric in target space; there is no way how a propagating string can affect this geometry. Of course string theory contains all fixed geometries somehow, but it does not allow one to change from one to the other and to describe this via dynamical evolution. By that I mean that I cannot see how to formulate the collapse of a black hole in string theory; I cannot start with some geometry and then looks what will happen later. As far as I can see this is not due to technical problems, but due to conceptual one; I simply cannot formulate this question in the context of strings.

This is very true; at least for the on-shell formulation of string that we know. There is simply no known formulation which would allow to "compare" different backgrounds, describe tunnelings, etc, as all this would require an off-shell formulation that we don't have. Some limited toy models exist here and there, eg some insights can be gained by considering tachyon condensation, which is a model for relaxing to a ground state. Some other toy models for going off-shell are topological strings where one can identify on-shell vacua as critical points of off-shell superpotentials. AdS/CFT provides a background-independent setup in a certain sense, for a specific situation, but this also doesn't allow to address questions of vacuum selection or Calabi-Yau's, etc.

Obviously one of the major missing points in string theory is the lack of an off-shell, perhaps background independent formulation; I guess no one would contest this statement… it's hardly a point of disagreement for string physicists!

Originally Posted by tom.stoer
And if this is true gravitons ceased to exist since we a) do no longer study gravity in AdS with the help of "perturbative gravitons" but we b) we translated it to CFT where there are simply no gravitons :-)​

I would say if gravitons turn out not to exist, string theory is dead (in the sense of unification with gravity); it still would be relevant for gauge theories, and describe QCD strings etc.
==endquote==

I would interpret this last remark by "S" as meaning (correct me if I misinterpret) that the string approach favors looking at gravity as a FORCE operating in a fixed geometric setup, rather than thinking of gravity as dynamic geometry.

This means there appears to be room for QG+M approaches where gravity=geometry. In such approaches the graviton is a mathematical tool which is useful when one analyses situations with approximately static flat geometry---low energy long wavelength, in effect. One does not suppose that the graviton actually exists except in special situations where it is useful to imagine and calculate with. Especially for such situations, versions of a "graviton propagator" have been derived in LQG, illustrating that it is possible but not fundamentally necessary in that approach.
 
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marcus

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More on Noncommutative Geometry (NCG) as a path to unification. This paper appeared today:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1008.5348
Noncommutative Geometry Spectral Action as a framework for unification: Introduction and phenomenological/cosmological consequences
Mairi Sakellariadou
11 pages; Invited contribution for Mario Castagnino's Festschrift, to be published in IJMPD
(Submitted on 31 Aug 2010)
"I will summarize Noncommutative Geometry Spectral Action, an elegant geometrical model valid at unification scale, which offers a purely gravitational explanation of the Standard Model, the most successful phenomenological model of particle physics. Noncommutative geometry states that close to the Planck energy scale, space-time has a fine structure and proposes that it is given as the product of a four-dimensional continuum compact Riemaniann manifold by a tiny discrete finite noncommutative space. The spectral action principle, a universal action functional on spectral triples which depends only on the spectrum of the Dirac operator, applied to this almost commutative product geometry, leads to the full Standard Model, including neutrino mixing which has Majorana mass terms and a see-saw mechanism, minimally coupled to gravity. It also makes various predictions at unification scale. I will review some of the phenomenological and cosmological consequences of this beautiful and purely geometrical approach to unification."
 
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I am the first author of this paper.

I just found this thread while searching for some stuff for my grad school applications, and was quite flattered to see this much interest. If that interest is still present (yeah, sorry for the thread necro) I'd be quite happy to answer any specific questions that you have, albeit sporadically until after apps are finished mid-December.
 

qsa

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I am the first author of this paper.

I just found this thread while searching for some stuff for my grad school applications, and was quite flattered to see this much interest. If that interest is still present (yeah, sorry for the thread necro) I'd be quite happy to answer any specific questions that you have, albeit sporadically until after apps are finished mid-December.

This sound very interesting. please check your Private Messages. also there is another paper using LQG I like to hear you opinion about it(I have to dig it up)

ok here it is

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0712/0712.0977v2.pdf
 
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atyy

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Wow, Domenic, thanks for stopping by!

In the group field theory approach, spin foams are Feynman diagrams. Would topspin foams be Feynman diagrams of some sort of group field theory?

Also, spin networks are related to tensor networks in condensed matter which are related to "topological order". I presume the "topological" in "topological order" is different from that in topspin networks, since normal tensor networks already capture the topological order. But I thought it might be worth asking whether there is any connection, just in case.

Just for reference, I'd like to link another thread where marcus and mitchell porter had an interesting discussion about the same material: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=475705
 
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