What will be the physics content of the eight overview talks at Strings '08?

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marcus
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I posted link to the Strings 2008 speaker lineup at the Announcements sticky.
We can do some digging and get prepared for what is to be expected.
there are eight one-hour overview talks, and nearly 30 half-hour specialized research talks.
All the talks are plenary--all in the same auditorium--for everybody, instead of breaking up into parallel sessions in different halls. All the speakers are chosen and nominated and invited by the COMMITTEE, which is unusual. No time slots for self-nominated volunteer talks called "contributed" which normally make up the bulk.

what can we get just from the list of the eight overview talks---which are what get top billing?

About half don't seem to be string theorists especially. Lyn Evans is head of the LHC project. Jos Engeler is CERN's chief scientific officer (CSO).
What about Lance Dixon? QCD but not especially stringy as I recall, have to check this.

On the other hand, David Gross wouldn't represent a specific string research line---in recent conferences his role has been to preside, give the keynote, the wrapup conclusions talk, to mention all the good work everybody else is doing and give general philosophy about "where we are". It is useful but i'm looking for something more specific.

So I would like to ASK A QUESTION of people who are well-informed about current stringy research. If you look at the four remaining in that list of 8---what specific recent research themes stand out? They've been chosen by the committee to give overview talks about results and prospects in their respective research areas.

Who then are the people?

Hirosi Ooguri
http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/www?rawcmd=FIND+AUTHOR+ooguri [Broken]
Steve Gubser
http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/www?rawcmd=find+author+gubser%2Cs [Broken]
Luis Ibanez
http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/www?rawcmd=ea+Ibanez,+Luis+E [Broken]
Boris Pioline
http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/www?rawcmd=FIND+a+pioline [Broken]

I'd appreciate it if we could get links to some specific recent papers by these people that have some definite results or other indications of why the committee would have singled them out to give a timely survey/review. Something somebody sees as important that they're involved in, IOW.
 
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marcus
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Hermann Nicolai is an important european string theorist and he had this article in Nature last year which I think may provide a key to understanding some physics content of the conference. Read this exerpt and see what you think:

===sample exerpts from Nicolai, Nature 18 October 2007===


Whether string theory can live up to its claim
of being a ‘theory of everything’, and whether
it will ever produce a falsifiable prediction as
such, remain hotly debated questions. Mean-
while, developments in a quieter side-alley1–8
indicate that the theory might be about to
deliver something of its original promise: help-
ing us to understand the physics of interactions
mediated by the strong nuclear force.
String theory was born in the 1960s, (...)
But initial attempts to describe the
forces between the quarks, and why they form
the bound states they do, failed miserably.
So particle physicists started casting around
for other ways of attacking the problem. In
1968, the Italian theoretician Gabriele Vene-
ziano made a brilliant guess9 and wrote down
a concrete mathematical expression, the Vene-
ziano amplitude, that explained some impor-
tant features of high-energy scattering. But
his formula could not be understood in terms
of point-like particles; instead, it required the
existence of extended objects — strings. (...)
The arrival in the early 1970s of quantum
chromodynamics (QCD), the quantum-field
theory of the strong interaction, dealt the final
blow to these early attempts to understand
nuclear physics in terms of string theory. But,
unfortunately, QCD is incredibly complex. (...)
In this ‘perturbative’ regime, we understand (at least in principle)
how to work with QCD. But for the strong cou-
pling that occurs over larger distances, one has
to resort to computer-simulation techniques,
known as lattice QCD. (...)
The new approach that revives the link to
string theory first suggested itself in 1998,
when Juan Martín Maldacena conjectured12
a link between a close relative of QCD and a
‘superstring’ living in a ten-dimensional curved
space-time. (...)
The Maldacena conjecture raised a lot
of interest, but seemed for a long time to be
quantitatively unverifiable. (...)
Help came from an entirely unexpected
direction. Following a prescient observa-
tion13, the spectrum of the N = 4 theory has
been found1,2 to be equivalently described
by a quantum-mechanical spin chain of a
type discovered by Hans Bethe in 1931 when
modelling certain metallic systems. (...)
Indeed, even though the
mathematical description of the duality on
the string-theory side is completely differ-
ent from that on the condensed-matter side,
a very similar, exactly solvable structure has
been identified here as well3–5.
Puzzling out the details of the exact solution
is currently an active field of research. (...)
Just recently, Beisert, Eden and Staudacher8 have
extracted the analogue of this observable on
the field-theory side, and have been able to
write down an equation valid at any strength of
the coupling. Since then, work has established
that their ‘BES equation’ does indeed seem, for
the first time, to offer a means of reformulating
theories such as QCD as string theories.
Much still needs to be learned from this
one exactly solvable case. There is justifiable
hope that this solution will teach us how to go
back to the physically relevant case of QCD
and finally arrive at the long-sought dual
description by a string theory. It may even
take us closer to realizing the quantum-field
theorist’s ultimate dream, unfulfilled for more
than 50 years: completely understanding an
interacting relativistic quantum-field theory
in the four space-time dimensions that we are
familiar with. Progress towards this goal can
be judged independently of loftier attempts to
use strings in the construction of a theory of
everything.

Hermann Nicolai is at the Max-Planck-Institut
für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut),
Mühlenberg 1, D-14476 Potsdam, Germany.

1. Minahan, J. A. & Zarembo, K. J. High Energy Phys. 0303,
013 (2003).
2. Beisert, N., Kristjansen, C. & Staudacher, M. Nucl. Phys. B
664, 131–184 (2003).
3. Bena, I., Polchinski, J. & Roiban, R. Phys. Rev. D 69, 046002
(2004).
4. Kazakov, V. A., Marshakov, A., Minahan, J. A. & Zarembo, K.
J. High Energy Phys. 0405, 024 (2004).
5. Arutyunov, G., Frolov, S. & Staudacher, M. J. High Energy
Phys. 0410, 016 (2004).
6. Gubser, S. S., Klebanov, I. R. & Polyakov, A. M. Nucl. Phys. B
636, 99–114 (2002).
7. Frolov, S. & Tseytlin, A. A. J. High Energy Phys. 0206, 007
(2002).
8. Beisert, N., Eden, B. & Staudacher, M. J. Stat. Mech. P01021
(2007).
9. Veneziano, G. Nuovo Cimento 57A, 190 (1968).
10. Ramond, P. Phys. Rev. D 3, 2415–2418 (1971).
11. Neveu, A. & Schwarz, J. H. Nucl. Phys. B 31, 86–112
(1971).
12. Maldacena, J. M. Adv. Theor. Math. Phys. 2, 231–252
(1998).
13. Lipatov, L. N. preprint available at www.arxiv.org/abs/[/URL]
hep-th/9311037 (1993).
14. Zaanen, J. Nature 448, 1000–1001 (2007).
NATURE|Vol 449|18 October 2007NEWS & VIEWS

==endquote==

I have highlighted Gubser in the references, and also the BES paper that was mentioned. Nicolai is on the ESF directorate and is a member of the Strings '08 conference committee. I've always found his point of view helpful to understand, PF comment on this going back to 2004.
 
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  • #3
marcus
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BTW I think it was in this connection that Arivero mentioned the "silver bridge" (on which some people had built their houses.)
I suppose that one could interpret part of the intention of the committee, particularly in chosing those 8 talks to highlight, as
a tutorial on reconnecting with a certain empirical reality. (or even as a tutorial on escape routes :smile: but this is not my interpretation exactly). I'd like to know what physics content other people see outstanding in the lineup.
 
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  • #4
arivero
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Actually, I wonder if there is a better English translation. In Spanish it is said "A enemigo que huye, puente de plata".
 
  • #5
marcus
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I think we just say "offer a face-saving way out"
and there is not necessarily mention of an enemy in the english version----all of us, friend and foe alike, may occasionally need ways to make a transition with maximum comfort and dignity

but the spanish way of saying it is, in this case I believe, infinitely more beautiful.
 
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  • #6
arivero
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I think we just say "offer a face-saving way out"
and there is not necessarily mention of an enemy in the english version----all of us, friend and foe alike, may occasionally need ways to make a transition with maximum comfort and dignity

but the spanish way of saying it is, in this case I believe, infinitely more beautiful.
We have also the other expression, "para salvar la cara", but it usually applies as a criticism: someone is acting to save its own face.

In any case, my opinion about to offer a face-saving way out has evolved, since I got the suspicion (-related in my last preprint, last year, and in Dorigo's guest post section-) that there is really something going on. I can not tell if it is open string theory or M-theory, but it could be that really there are working out some of the low energy structure, not the Planck one. Thus I am now not happy about leaving researchers to escape into hot QCD/AdS/blahblah duality.
 

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