Nima Arkani-Hamed today gave a “vision talk” at Strings 2019, entitled Prospects for contact of string theory with experiments which essentially admitted there are no such prospects. He started by joking that he had been assigned this talk topic by someone who wanted to see him give a short talk for a change, or perhaps someone who wanted to “throw him to the wolves”.
The way he dealt with the challenge was by dropping “string theory”, entitling his talk “Connecting Fundamental Theory to the Real World” and only discussing the question of SUSY (he’s still for Split SUSY, negative LHC results are irrelevant since if SUSY were natural it would have been seen at LEP, and maybe a 100km pp machine will see something, or ACME will see an electron edm).
He did discuss the string theory landscape, and explained it was one reason that about 15 years ago he mostly stopped working on phenomenological HEP theory and started doing the more mathematical physics amplitudes stuff. David Gross used to argue that the danger of the multiverse was that it would convince people to give up on trying to understand fundamental issues about HEP theory (where does the Standard Model comes from?). It’s now clear that this is no longer a danger for the future but a reality of the present.
In order to go over time, Arkani-Hamed dropped the topic of his title and turned to discussing his hopes for his amplitudes work. The “long shot fantasy” is that a formulation of QFT will be found in which amplitudes are given by integrating some abstract geometrical quantities.
The conference ended with a “vision” panel discussion. Others may see things differently, but what most struck me about this was the absence of any sort of plausible vision.
Update: Taking a look at the slides from the ongoing EPS-HEP 2019 conference, Ooguri seems to strongly disagree with Arkani-Hamed, claiming in his last slide here that a CMB polarization experiment (LiteBIRD) to fly in 8 years, “provides an unprecedented
opportunity for String Theory to be falsified.” I find this extremely hard to believe. Does anyone else other than Ooguri believe that detection/non-detection of CMB B-modes can falsify string theory?