Strings 2008 starts tomorrow at CERN, with about 400 physicists in attendance. CERN will be providing a live webcast for the rest of us. The timetable of the talks is here. The first afternoon will be devoted not to string theory, but to the LHC.
Those in attendance without their own blogs are encouraged to report on the goings-on by writing comments here when they get bored by the talks. I’ll try and watch some of the talks (or at least look at the slides), and use this posting to write about them.
Update: I’m not likely to be up early enough to catch the morning talks on the webcast, but Lubos is, so you can follow his virtual live-blogging.
Update: Live, the conference seems to be suffering from not always being up to the technology of displaying slides on a Mac to the audience. But slides of the previous talks are now beginning to be available here.
Update: After looking through the slides of the talks and hearing a few of them, the thing that strikes me most about Strings 2008 is how little there has been about strings. Particle theory may be moving to a model where the big annual conference is labeled “STRINGS”, and speakers make nods of respect toward string theory, but actually talk about something else.
The three big hot topics of the conference are
Looking at the talks that actually are about string theory unification, you quickly see why most people are talking about something else. Ibanez starts off by asking whether string theory makes physical predictions, then claims that it does, with one of them being exactly the reason it doesn’t make predictions about physics: “There is a large landscape of string vacuum solutions…”, which he then goes on to describe. Donagi’s talk, about Heterotic Standard Models, was remarkable in how much the situation there hasn’t changed since 1985. You can come up with such models with the right quantum numbers (and actually, just about any quantum numbers you want…), but to get anything else, you have to address how to stabilize moduli and break supersymmetry, and Donagi just mentions these problems at the end as tasks to address in the future. For more about the F-theory-motivated models reported on, see the comments at this posting, where “anonymous” has an informed discussion with him (or her)self.