A couple months ago there was a session at an APS meeting with the topic Sidney Coleman Remembered. Slides are available for talks by Coleman’s student Erick Weinberg and colleague Howard Georgi. Georgi has recently posted a written version of the talk here. He also a few years ago wrote this biographical memoir about Coleman for the National Academy of Sciences.
David Derbes and collaborators [see comment section for details] are putting together a book version of Coleman’s famous lectures on quantum field theory, hope to be finished with this by the end of the summer. I’ve helped out in a very small way by sending them a scan of my notes from when I took Coleman’s course very long ago.
This will be a great resource for anyone learning QFT and, in the meantime, if you don’t have a copy of Coleman’s Erice lectures, Aspects of Symmetry, you should get one. The period of these lectures spans the late sixties and seventies, and at the time they were required reading for everyone, giving every couple years a lucid explanation of the most important new ideas in the field. The last (1979) lectures are about the 1/N expansion, and I notice that Coleman extensively credits Witten, who was a postdoc at Harvard at the time. A couple years later, Witten in some sense took over from Coleman, lecturing about supersymmetry (a topic Coleman never warmed to) at Erice in 1981.
Last Friday at CERN there was an event devoted to the 40th anniversary of supergravity. Coleman makes a couple appearances, with Sergio Ferrara claiming he was responsible for the name “gravitino” and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen quoting him as saying
I am uninterested in gravity, and superuninterested in supergravity.
One reason for this was surely the ferociously technical difficulties of constructing supergravity, with Coleman not interested in difficult calculations. Another was likely a lack of interest in topics with no known relation to experiment, which likely had to do with his comments about both gravity and supergravity. At the CERN event, Albert De Roecke’s presentation, Desperately Seeking SUSY, reviews the long story of the failure of SUSY and supergravity to make contact with experiment, including a New York Times 1993 article about the failure to find SUSY at the Tevatron. It has extensive detail about the unsuccessful searches at the LHC.
De Roeck also includes a copy of David Gross’s 1994 bet with Ken Lane that SUSY will appear at the LHC (when at least 50 inverse fb have been accumulated). Gross will likely have to pay this off next year, but another such bet just came due on June 16th, so a group of theorists should by now be buying expensive cognac for their more prescient colleagues.