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String turns forty. (Happy birthday Veneziano model 1969)

  1. Nov 16, 2009 #1


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    I heard today the sad news that one of the "grandfathers" of string, Hector Rubenstein, recently passed away.
    He was Gabriele Veneziano's PhD advisor---or so I understand. Also that of Miguel Virasoro.
    Here is a memoir about the string-beginnings written by Rubenstein:

    The Birth of the Veneziano Model and String Theory
    http://www.physto.se/~rub/gabriele/gab.ps [Broken]

    Sad though that news is, it reminds us to celebrate the 40th birthday of the Veneziano model. It was Veneziano's equation that got Leonard Susskind started. The story is he studied Veneziano's paper for several months and then began talking about particles being vibration modes.

    If anybody has some additional knowledge about these roots in antiquity, please share them. Apparently the early days that Rubenstein recalls go back to the Weizmann Institute, in 1966. The Weizmann is a few kilometers south of Tel Aviv. His memoir has a photograph of himself, Veneziano, Virasoro, Sergio Fubini and others, which was taken there.

    The developments he recounts occurred mainly in 1967-1969. He includes the photo of a crucial handwritten letter (English) which he received from Veneziano in 1968. The Veneziano model evidently got around at first by private communication and then was published either that same year or the next.

    I think the initial paper was:
    [16] G. Veneziano, “Construction of a Crossing-Symmetric Regge-Behaved Amplitude for Linearly Rising Regge Trajectories,” Nuovo Cim. 57A, 190 (1968).
    Susskind followed up in 1969.
    [38] L. Susskind, “Harmonic Oscillator Analogy for the Veneziano Amplitude,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 23, 545 (1969).
    These references are from John Schwarz' history:
    Thanks to both Arivero and Thomas Larsson for calling my attention to these important people and events.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Nov 16, 2009 #2


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    I'm sad to hear that. I had Hector R as the teacher during a course in "relativistic QM / QFT" several years ago. I remember him as often responding to requests to verify answers to examples as "when you understand this, you will no longer need to ask" without even bothering to look at the tentative answers :)

    Edit: Another thing I remember is a story he told in class as a response to someone complaining about too many exercises or something in parallell to other classes. He then told us that he once had a student that was at the same time in the israeli army (which he told was not a joke) - thus who are we to complain :)

    His reasoning style in teaching from the tiny thing I could extract and remember now was more right to the point (omitting possible exceptions and motivations as I can recall).

    But like many older professors he was inspirational to us students. But at that time I didn't know he was "grandfather" of string theory.

    Last edited: Nov 16, 2009
  4. Nov 22, 2009 #3


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    Did we? Ah yes, in Woit's blog comment thread. Still, the developments of 1968-69, including the bosonic string picture, were a sort of analytical continuation of the singular developments of the decade. To me, the real cut is in January 1971, with Ramond fermion, and then perhaps at the end of this year the "dual hadron" model.

    Now, if we want to set the milestone in the first mention of the string picture in a refereed journal, I think yes, it could be Susskind 1969.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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