Strings 2005, the latest in a series of yearly huge string theory conferences, will be taking place this week in Toronto. This series began in 1997 in Amsterdam, and in recent years has attracted 445 participants to Cambridge in 2002, 392 to Kyoto in 2003 and 477 to Paris last year. So far there are about 415 people already signed up, so it looks like this year’s conference should be similar in size to ones of the last few years.
I expect that some string theory bloggers wil be reporting from the conference. In particular Jacques Distler will be there, chairing a session that should include two of the loonier talks of the conference (Kachru and Douglas on the landscape), and presumably we’ll be hearing from him. Last year there were several people reading “Not Even Wrong” on their laptops using the wireless connection in the lecture hall in Paris, this year I hope anyone there who doesn’t have his or her own weblog will let us know what is going on by posting comments here.
The conference will end next Saturday with a public lecture by Lenny Susskind. His talk has the same title as his forthcoming book on the landscape pseudo-science. The theme of the public lectures is listed as: “If String Theory’s the Answer, What’s the Question?”
Update: Slides from the conference have already started to appear, including Ooguri’s survey talk on topological string theory, one of the few subjects in string theory which seems to still be alive. Ooguri makes a valiant effort to try to answer the question “If topological string theory is an answer, what is the question?” He does answer the question “If string theory is an answer, what is the question?”, but the answer is disappointing: “What is string theory?”
Jacques Distler is blogging from the conference. In his coverage of this morning he ignores the topological string theory stuff and describes Eva Silverstein’s talk. She seems to me to be getting into Bogdanov territory with an obscure mechanism that somehow is supposed to say something about the initial singularity of space-time. Jacques says he doesn’t really understand this, and I’m in agreement with him there.
And my logs are starting to show some connections from user37-*.wireless.utoronto.ca. Hi guys! Come on, there are at least nine of you reading this from the lecture hall, so at least one of you can tell us what is going on. String theorists seem to prefer Macs, so far the wireless connections are coming from 6 different Macs and 3 different Windows machines.