Slides from the talks at Strings 2006 are now available. I’ve spent a little while looking through them today, and am sorry I don’t have time to say much about them. Lots of more or less the same thing as in earlier years, and many talks devoted to complicated arguments designed to, as Eva Silverstein writes, populate, probe or constrain the Landscape. Nothing remotely like a plausible idea about how to ever get a prediction of anything out of this, but also virtually no anthropic arguments. I assume this was due to the iron fist of organizer David Gross.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quite a few mathematically very interesting talks. Besides many talks of the sort that have been common in recent years dealing with the topological string, there were several that had nothing to do with string theory, but involved interesting mathematics related to QFT, and many of these had to do with work Witten is involved with, so they may get some attention. These were:
1. Witten’s own talk on Gauge Theory And The Geometric Langlands Program.
2. Kapustin’ talk on the same topic, entitled Topological reduction of supersymmetric gauge theories and S-duality.
3. Gukov’s talk on Surface Operators in Gauge Theory and Categorification, where he mentions that some of what he discusses is based on on-going joint work with Witten.
4. Nikita Nekrasov’s talk on Beyond Morse Theory.
So, as far as physics goes, the organizers are not allowing any talks on alternatives to string theory (the only mention of LQG seems to have been Dijkgraaf’s making fun of it), but they are willing to allow mathematical talks on QFT that are not related to string theory, especially since this is the field that Witten seems to be doing a lot of work in.