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Vafa: Landscape and Swampland

  1. Sep 28, 2005 #1

    marcus

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    this just posted, in case there is interest:
    http://www.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0509212
    The String Landscape and the Swampland
    Cumrun Vafa
    9 pages

    "Recent developments in string theory suggest that string theory landscape of vacua is vast. It is natural to ask if this landscape is as vast as allowed by consistent-looking effective field theories. We use universality ideas from string theory to suggest that this is not the case, and that the landscape is surrounded by an even more vast swampland of consistent-looking semiclassical effective field theories, which are actually inconsistent. Identification of the boundary of the landscape is a central question which is at the heart of the meaning of universality properties of consistent quantum gravitational theories. We propose certain finiteness criteria as one relevant factor in identifying this boundary (based on talks given at the Einstein Symposium in Alexandria, at the 2005 Simons Workshop in Mathematics and Physics, and the talk to have been presented at Strings 2005)."
     
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  3. Sep 28, 2005 #2

    marcus

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    Peter Woit now has a thread commenting on Vafa's new paper
    at his blog:

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=265#comments

    Vafa is a key string figure. as chairman of the Harvard physics department, he has power and influence, plus his research is highly regarded. Furthermore many of the other big names in string are now elder statesmen and no longer writing a lot of papers. Vafa, in contrast to these other eminent figures is still writing a lot of papers. So I think he is a real leader (not just a patriarch) and it matters what direction he decides to go because the young people will follow.

    I started this thread because I thought other people might understand the direction Vafa is taking and might want to comment. I personally don't want to comment.

    there may be some discussion over at the Not Even Wrong blog.
     
  4. Sep 28, 2005 #3

    marcus

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    I see that Lubos Motl has also posted something about the Vafa paper
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2005/09/swampland.html

    His dateline says he posted at 9:44 PM eastern just about an hour before Peter.

    Motl already has some criticism of Vafa paper from Andy Strominger.

    "I should mention that not everyone is excited with this new program. For example, A.S. believes that the program has two basic flaws: the conjectures are trivially correct in every theory of quantum gravity independently of string theory; and moreover they are wrong.

    I would respond to the first objection that it is not a goal to distinguish string theory from a generic consistent background of quantum gravity; on the contrary, it is a part of the belief system in this context that the class of string-theoretical backgrounds and consistent theories of quantum gravities are probably identical sets. The response to the other objection is that while we can't prove most of the conjectures because a complete definition of string theory is lacking, some of them may be true and common features of all string backgrounds may be a good guide in the search for the ultimate formulation of string theory."
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2005
  5. Sep 29, 2005 #4

    Chronos

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    Interesting. Lubos appears to have reinvented the self-eating watermelon.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2005 #5

    marcus

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    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=265#comments

    In the discussion of "Landscape and Swampland" over at the Not Even Wrong blog, a poster named RR Tucci described Lubos plight

    ------
    rrtucci Says:
    September 30th, 2005 at 10:51 am
    Peter, just had an idea for “the special-edition cover” for your book: a picture of Lubos’ head (wearing a harvuhd tie), the head superimposed on the body of a tiny ant, which is at the focal point of a large magnifying glass, which in turn is being illuminated by the sun. Maybe also a smarter ant, with Witten’s head, running away. And an ant with Vafa’s head caught in a swamp.
    ------

    There have been 18 comments about Vafa's paper so far. A poster with the sobriquet Not a Nobel Laureate takes a different line.

    ------
    Not a Nobel Laureate Says:
    September 29th, 2005 at 5:43 pm
    You’re all wrong.

    The Theory of Intelligent Falling is the Answer.

    Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

    August 17, 2005 | Issue 41•33

    “Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein’s general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world,” said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. “They’ve been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don’t know how.”
    ------
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2005
  7. Sep 30, 2005 #6
    I happen to know a few things about swamps. One is that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, a bird often thought to be extinct, has recently been seen, photographed, recorded, and positively identified by recognised ornithology experts as alive and flying. "The rumers of my recent death are greatly exaggerated," he said.

    Another thing about swamps is that they are not permanent. Many have been drained for the benefit of cattle. Even when not drained, they are transitional, slowly filling with debris on their way to being meadows, then forests.

    One other thing about swamps is that they usually are limited to low places. This means that if you walk across one, you usually find high ground again on the other side. Of course, the swamps I frequent are not tidal swamps, that end at the ocean, but forest bogs. I find them rich, fragrant, fertile places, full of life and change.

    Perhaps the swamps Lubos inhabits are different from mine. It certainly sounds as if they are, because mine don't exist around an island that sticks up out of a lake of s__t. I don't know much about lakes of s__t, except that they do exist, and I avoid them.

    I am sorry that Mr.Motl finds his work in such a dreary unpleasent place. The colors are very beautiful here this fall, and personally, I look forward already to the return of the spring peepers, with their lively bacchanalian swamp songs.

    Be well,

    Richard
     
  8. Oct 1, 2005 #7

    marcus

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    More about swamps:
    [​IMG]

    Scientists have observed two female gorillas using sticks to probe the depth of muddy water and to cross swampy areas.

    BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4296606.stm
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2005
  9. Oct 1, 2005 #8

    marcus

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    Trackback to Vafa "String Landscape and Swampland" may have been censored

    the trackback system adopted by ARXIV is designed to let the abstract of a paper (like the Vafa one http://www.arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0509212 )
    list links to science-oriented blogs where there is comment on the paper

    If you go to the Vafa abstract, at the above URL, you will find several, at least two, "trackback" links listed at the bottom

    Peter Woit commented on the paper at his blog and accordingly set up a trackback, which I gather initially showed up on this list but was then by some means---or perhaps by accident---removed.

    the thread of comments which I suspect should (but does not) have a trackback connection to the Vafa abstract is here:

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=265

    the thread of comment on the seemingly arbitrary deletion of the trackback link is here:
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=270
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2005
  10. Oct 2, 2005 #9
    Hi Marcus,

    I don't think the trackback ever showed up on the list of trackbacks for that paper, presumably because it was rejected by the moderator, which is what I meant by "censored".

    When I publish a new posting using wordpress, supposedly it sends out trackbacks to any of the sites hosting links in the posting, and the link to Vafa's paper should have generated a trackback sent to arxiv.org. When the trackback system first started, I noticed that a link to a paper by Mickelsson that was in one of my postings should have generated a trackback, but it wasn't there. The next day it appeared, presumbably going through whatever moderation system the arXiv is using.

    Since no trackback for my link to the Vafa paper has appeared several days after the posting, I'm assuming this is because it was rejected by a moderator. But I don't know this for sure. Perhaps I'm being paranoid, and the trackback was never properly sent by my software.

    The arxiv trackback moderation system is completely non-transparent. There seems to be no way to tell if a trackback really got to them, whether it is in the process of being moderated, whether it was rejected, who is doing the moderating, or what criteria they are using. It's also not at all obvious who to contact to ask about this. I sent an e-mail about this to someone who should know what is going on, haven't heard back, but this is over a weekend.

    This isn't of great importance, and I don't really have time to try and figure out exactly what is going on here. Maybe this is all just due to software not doing what it is supposed to. But at the moment the most likely explanation for what happened seems to me to be that a moderator rejected my trackback while accepting those from Distler and Motl's blogs.
     
  11. Oct 2, 2005 #10

    marcus

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    thanks for giving us the facts. I would say that a case of apparent censorship* in the running of the preprint arxiv is of considerable concern. More worrisome than any technical or opinion issues about Cumrun Vafa's paper that could have surfaced in any of the blogs to which Vafa's abstract might or might not have links.

    I am hopeful that your experience will eventually help bring about some more transparent policy on trackbacks---or else that this was merely a minor human blunder or "machine error" of some sort. In any case I hope it will be satisfactorily resolved.

    *I dont mean "quality control" exercised to maintain intellectual standards, but censorship showing favor to one side or another of a controversy---partisanship in matters of opinion.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  12. Oct 7, 2005 #11

    marcus

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    the trackback to Peter Woit's blog was finally accepted by the arXiv.org system (presumably by the human editor)
    so now the Vafa article has 3 trackbacks
    http://www.arxiv.org/tb-display/hep-th/0509212

    these are the two (Distler and Motl) which were immediately accepted plus Peter's which was generated the same day but not immediately included.

    so we are talking time period from 28 September to around 7 October, roughly a week.

    also Peter may have needed to send a reminder to arXiv in order to get it to go through, it may not have been automatic---I don't know any details.

    it's worth noticing I think. the system should not be biased towards string credence and against critical/skeptical perspective, so one needs to keep on the lookout
     
  13. Oct 7, 2005 #12

    selfAdjoint

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    It is hopeful that I believe Distler must have given an OK on this, even if he didn't initiate it (but maybe he did?). It allays my fears about bias, at least.
     
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