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The history of string theory

  1. Nov 20, 2003 #1


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    How and from what was string theory first formulated? I have heard that it was somehow connected with the attempt to unify General relativity and electromagnetism by introducing a fifth dimension, but I know little about the logical process which gave rise to string theory.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2003 #2
    No, actually all that bit about extra dimensions and supersymmetry and such came later. String theory originally arose as an attempt to describe the strong nuclear force (the "dual models"), until quantum chromodynamics won out. It came about in a kind of ad-hoc way; in 1968 (ed: not 1986) Veneziano proposed a formula to fit some of the high-energy characteristics of the strong force, and then people like Nambu and Virasoro realized that the formula was what was predicted from the dynamics of strings. Later other people realized that you needed extra dimensions to make it consistent, that you could get fermions with supersymmetry, that you could get gravity from the theory, that you might get everything else by compactifying the extra dimensions, etc.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2003
  4. Nov 20, 2003 #3
    A string theory for the strong force (hadronics) came first.

    String theorists talk fondly about the history of their subject. Here are two colloquium audio files with their overhead slides.

    The Beginning of String Theory or: How Nature Deceived Us in the Sixties
    Dr. Gabriele Veneziano, CERN/TH & KITP --->


    Early History of String Theory: A Personal Perspective
    Dr. John Schwarz, Caltech --->

  5. Nov 21, 2003 #4
    I think that Ambitwistor made a typo; was in 1968 and not in 1986 when Veneziano proposed his formula: Veneziano's formula
    In my notes I have that the first people that proposed string theory like a theory of unification of the 4 forces, a TOE, were Schwarz and Scherk in 1974
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2003
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