Several things have come up recently that brought up the year 1985, the year the film “Back to the Future” came out.
This summer the IAS will be running a two-week program at the IAS on Strings and Phenomenology, designed to train a new generation of graduate students and postdocs in the details of compactification methods which mostly go back to 1985, quite possibly before some of the attendees were even born. No evidence that there will be any mention of the fact that 23 years of work on these topics has led simply to a dead-end: the landscape.
Experiments within the next five to ten years will enable us to decide whether supersymmetry at the weak interaction scale is a myth or reality
He notes that “This statement is still true today!”
Andrei Linde in his talk on cosmology crows about what he sees as Witten’s recent capitulation to the anthropic landscape point of view about string theory that Linde was pushing back around 1985 (actually 1986) when he wrote:
An enormously large number of possible types of compactification which exist e.g. in the theories of superstrings should be considered not as a difficulty but as a virtue of these theories, since it increases the probability of mini-universes in which life of our type may appear.
which he compares to this from the New York Times
Now, Dr. Witten allowed, dark energy might have transformed this fecundity from a vice into a virtue, a way to generate universes where you can find any cosmological constant you want. We just live in one where life is possible, just as fish only live in water.
At the same time, I’ve been reading and thinking about some papers written back in 1985 which deal with the mathematics of gauge theory and anomalies. At least some of these were never published, including one that I’ve seen references to (by Igor Frenkel and Iz Singer), but never a copy of (does anyone have a copy?). Looking at the history of this subject, it is clear that some very good people were working on this until 1985, at which point quite a few of them dropped it to take up the new fashion of string theory.
Perhaps the LHC will revive the subject of particle theory, by producing a wormhole that will take the world back to its other end, opened up in 1985 by a DeLorean in the movie, from there setting us off into a more promising part of the multiverse.