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The Duel: Strings versus Loops by Rudy Vaas

  1. Mar 24, 2004 #1


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    "The Duel: Strings versus Loops" by Rudy Vaas


    it's a 10-page popular article about the
    Strings meets Loops conference last October
    written for Bild der Wissenschaft
    (translated into English by Martin Bojowald and
    Amitaba Sen)

    Part of Urs reportage from the Ulm meeting of
    the German Physical Society was about his conversation
    with Rudy Vaas

    here is the abstract, in case it's wanted
    http://arxiv.org./physics/0403112 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2004 #2


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    It caught my attention that the title of the original article is
    "Das Duell: Strings gegen Schleifen"

    loops translates to Schleifen

    you'd think string would translate into "Schnur" [edit: Urs mentioned
    Fadentheorie as a possible translation for string theory, so forget Schnur
    and think Faden]
    but it doesnt translate----it stays English maybe because
    of protracted American leadership in string theory
    maybe string theory has an american flavor (?)
    or who knows why

    Etera Livine's thesis was titled
    Boucles et Mousses de Spin
    (Loops and Foams of Spin)

    so spin has gone untranslated into French, but loop has its own native French word boucle.
    and "spin foam" translates into a bilingual mixed-marriage "mousse de spin"
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2004
  4. Mar 29, 2004 #3


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    We are now discussing R. Vaas' article over at the Coffee Table:

    http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/string/archives/000330.html#c000867 .

    Regarding Loops and Schleifen:

    Contemporary german language makes heavy and sometimes even insane use of english words. The situation here is completely unlike that for instance in France, where even laws are in effect to strengthen the use of French.

    Here almost the opposite is true. Emphasizing the value of genuine german language, having a flavor of patriotism to it, is kind of frowned upon, because everybody fond of anything german still makes himself suspect, due to the 20th century history of the country. This is not the reason to use english words in every particular case, but it certainly helped to establish a general trend. English is in.

    Most teenage rockgroups in germany choose english names for their groups, and write their song texts in english. We send email instead of 'E-Briefe', we chat instead of 'plaudern', and so on. Even the government is beginning to choose what they think are english titles for their programs. Recently, somebody in the socialist administration decided that it would be great if there were something like an Ivy League in Germany. The program which is supposed to achieve that is called 'brain up'. :-/

    In the sciences, where English is the lingua franca anyway, things are even more extreme. Very few people here make any attempts at translating technical terms in physics into german. That's why we say 'strings', 'spin' (even when playing tennis!) and so on. So instead of being surprised that 'string theory' is not translated to 'Fadentheorie' (I have never seen the word 'Fadentheorie' in print) I am rather surprised that somebody bothered to write 'Schleifen' for 'loops'. It may have to do with the difficulty of explaining the difference between 'strings' and 'loops' to laymen.
  5. Mar 29, 2004 #4


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    this is very bad news and I am sorry to hear it

    to be proud of one's language is different from being proud of
    one's army

    I can almost not believe you that the German people could be so stupid
    as to confuse being proud of their language
    with the ancient atavistic forms of nationalism like the violent
    enthusiasm people have about their football teams and other tribal craziness.

    for gods sake tell them, tell everyone you can who will listen,
    that the whole world has a stake in the continued health of
    its languages and that not only should they not feel embarrassed
    by esteeming and preserving hochdeutsch but they should take
    it as their duty

    this evening my chorus begins a series of 9 rehearsals of brahms
    deutsches requiem. we will kick butt. its a good piece.
    (yesterday we gave our concert of the Haydn Dminor mass which
    is of course in Latin----also a great language, it would be
    horrible to have to sing either of those pieces in English. I would
    walk out.) Of course English is also a wonderful language. It is
    necessary to be fully committed to each language of which one
    is fortunate enough to have custody
  6. Mar 29, 2004 #5


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    You say
    "It may have to do with the difficulty of explaining the difference between 'strings' and 'loops' to laymen."

    If experts really say Schleifen then I do not know but I suspect they did not choose this technical term simply for convenience in talking to laymen.
    the mathematicians (e.g. in topology) may already have been
    talking about Schleifen already for 70 or 80 years----this is one
    possibility, the word could already have been established
    in german "Math-talk" long before the recent invasion by english words.
  7. Mar 29, 2004 #6


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    I see that this is a conversation between Rudy Vaas and Urs. This makes it more interesting since the science-journalist Vaas is the author of the paper and was also at the DPG conference. Unfortunately we at PF do not have so much pizazz that journalists are eager to come and chat with us.
  8. Mar 29, 2004 #7


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    If you do want to chat with R. Vaas, just post a message to the Coffee Table. I did point him to the discussion here, but he tells me that limited time only allows him to participate in a limited number of forums.

    BTW, maybe it would help if there were less of 'growl, growl' and related stuff on PF... As a rule of thumb, see if your posts would comply to the s.p.r. charter, which has been written exactly in order to keep the discussion attractive.
  9. Mar 30, 2004 #8
    Greetings from California


    Man, I almost forgot how nice the weather is here in California. I am really dreading the trip back to Boston! :)

    I can't agree more about the 'growl growl' nonsense. With things like that the chance of having a serious discussion here is basically nil. The only reason I check in once in a while to make sure I don't miss any links that Urs might post :)

    Gotta run!


    PS: sci.physics.strings hasn't appeared on google yet! :)
  10. Mar 31, 2004 #9


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    Hi Eric, great to hear from you!

    You wrote:

    Yes, but we are being told that it probably appears this week, maybe next week.

    There is not a lot of traffic at the moment at s.p.s, so you are not missing much if you cannot access a newsserver (though most newsserves should serve s.p.s by now).

    But concerning this thread here we already had a little discussion concerning D. Bahn's thesis and Pohlmeyer invariants. I have a copy of the discussion here .
  11. Mar 31, 2004 #10


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    Oh, looks like I temporarily confused the title of this thread with another thread!

    So let me rather point out that on sps we are currently also trying to demonstrate to popular science journalist Ruediger Vaas that string theory has a much nicer way to 'get spacetime a posteriori' than LQG does. Robert Helling has already provided a nice elementary research poster and Arvind Rajaraman promised to post something about 'emergent spacetime' in string theory to sps.

    After reading Ruediger's article one gets the impression that apparatly LQG has done a much better job of selling their philosophy to the public than string theory has! That's maybe not surprising, because what is philosophy in LQG is theory in strings, and technical results are much harder to popularize than the vague idea (not supported by technical results) that 'spacetime is a spin network'. See here for an explanation of what I mean.

    Ruediger explicitly told me that the basic idea of LQG is so much easier to understand than that of string theory. That's why I would like to collect some semi-popular accounts that make the beautiful ideas that emerge from string theory more accessible.
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