Strings 2010, this year’s version of the big annual string theory conference, will be held next week in College Station, Texas. There’s a university press release about this here. Normally the conference is held in the summer at places like Rome, Madrid, Paris, Kyoto, etc. and attracts about 4-500 string theorists. This year’s time and location may keep attendance down (although College Station is a lot cheaper place to stay than Rome…).
Unlike most years, there have been no promotional public lectures arranged. It also appears that there is no summary talk scheduled. In recent years, these have often been given by David Gross (who won’t be talking this year) or by Robbert Dijkgraaf (who is busy with another project, video here, for which he might want to recruit help from fellow string theorist Lubos Motl). Many of the talk titles are now available. In the past, sometimes the hot topic was mathematical and mathematicians were in attendance, but this has no longer been true for a while now. This year the hot topic is condensed matter physics, with several talks scheduled on attempts to apply AdS/CFT techniques to superconductors.
It turns out I’m going to be relatively nearby, but a week later, giving a talk for the public the evening of March 24th at Collin College in Plano.
Starting up this week and continuing through May, the KITP is hosting a string phenomenology program entitled Strings at the LHC and in the Early Universe. The program blurb somehow neglects to mention that string theory doesn’t actually predict anything at all about LHC physics or cosmology. To get a good idea of the topics that researchers in this field are discussing, online talks are here, starting with two rather general discussion sessions, one led by Blumenhagen, the second by Ovrut. As far as connecting to real physics goes, the state of the art seems to be much like it was a quarter century ago, with people struggling to find ways to come up with string theory-motivated constructions that are not in obvious disagreement with experiment. To achieve this requires going to ever more complicated models, which often contain various particles not in the Standard Model. In terms of making LHC predictions, one has no idea if this is a good or bad thing.