Conference Roundup

Lots of conferences are going on right around now, here’s some of them, many with on-line versions of the talks.

Lattice 2005 in Dublin, with blogging from Matthew Nobes.

SUSY 2005 at Durham. See some comments by Clifford Johnson. There was also a Pre-SUSY 2005 workshop aimed at graduate students.

Also at Durham, a workshop on Geometry, Conformal Field Theory and String Theory, blogging from Paul Cook.

Introduction to Collider Physics, a summer program aimed at graduate students, taking place at the Institute in Princeton.

This year’s SLAC summer institute is on Gravity in the Quantum World and the Cosmos. Sean Carroll is lecturing there and may have more to say about it over at Cosmic Variance.

There’s a Summer Institute going on in Taipei, and a summer school in Dubna.

The summer meeting in Oporto has taken place. I’d love to hear from anyone who was there about Graeme Segal’s lectures.

The Simons Workshop in Stony Brook has started, leading off with a talk by Cumrun Vafa on The Swamp Surrounding the Landscape. He seems to be suggesting that theorists should be spending their time investigating the “swamp” of possible effective field theories for which it is unknown whether they can be the low energy limit of a string theory. Why he thinks its a good idea to try and lead the field into a “swamp” is very unclear to me, although one could argue it is already there anyway….

Update: A commenter properly takes me to task for ignoring what’s going on down under. There’s been a Conference in honor of Ross Street’s 60th birthday, together with one workshop on categorical methods and another one on noncommutative geometry and index theory, all covered extensively by bloggers over at the String Coffee Table.

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7 Responses to Conference Roundup

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lubos:
    So in addition to string prediction making no testable predictions, you now say you haven’t much of a clue what it says is impossible? Great work.

  2. Lubo Motl says:

    Cumrun’s goal is to define what string theory is – and especially what string theory is not. For example, pure N=1 supergravity in 4 or 6 dimensions does not seem to arise in any stringy vacuum we know of. It would be great to find a kind of proof that various things are impossible according to string theory; we need these things to fully distinguish the predictions of string theory, even outside our Universe, from generic effective field theories.

    I think Cumrun would agree that we may be currently in swamp, and he may become the savior who will take us away from it. 😉

  3. Tony Smith says:

    In his paper The Swamp Surrounding the Landscape, Cumrun Vafa says “… The main difficulty in describing nature using string theory comes from the multiplicity of string vacua. …”.

    David Gross said, in Chapter 11 of the book The Rise of the Standard Model – Particle Physics in the 1960s and 1970s, edited by Hoddeson, Brown, Riordan, and Dresden (Cambridge 1997):

    “… The bootstrap idea was immmensely popular in the early 1960s … it rested on the solid principles of causality and unitarity … It promised to … provide a unique value for all observables … This is of course false. We now know that there are an infinite number of consistent S-matrices that satisfy all the sacred principles. …”.

    Is it fair to modify Gross’s quote as follows:

    “… The superstring idea was immmensely popular for the past two decades … it rested on the solid principles of supersymmetry and gravity from loop gravitons … It promised to … provide a unique value for all observables … This is of course false. We now know that there are a huge (possibly infinite) number of consistent vacua that satisfy all the sacred principles. …”

    Is Edward Witten the present-day counterpart of Geoffrey Chew?

    Compare this Chew quote (from Capra’s Tao of Physics)

    “… Our current struggle with the hadron bootstrap may thus be only a foretaste of a completely new form of human intellectual endeavor …”

    with this Witten quote (from Greene’s The Elegant Universe)

    “… Understanding what M-theory really is – the physics it embodies – would transform our understanding of nature at least as radically as occurred in any of the major scientific upheavals of the past …”

    Tony Smith

  4. Kea says:

    There’s also a southern hemisphere.

  5. Anonymous says:

    leading off with a talk by Cumrun Vafa on The Swamp Surrounding the Landscape…
    —an evocative title, reminiscent of a passage by WB Yeats:

    And certain men, being maddened by those rhymes,
    Or else by toasting her a score of times,
    Rose from the table and declared it right
    To test their fancy by their sight;
    But they mistook the brightness of the moon
    For the prosaic light of day –
    Music had driven their wits astray –
    And one was drowned in the great bog of Cloone.

  6. P P Cook says:

    Sean, I suspect the hiring process encourages bloggers to only report “nice” things about the people who may effect their careers. Of course you will have to worry about the “untouchable” bloggers who already have a secure career, oh and the insane 🙂

    Peter, thanks for the link.

    Best wishes,

  7. Sean says:

    Soon it will be impossible to make fun of anyone in a talk, as the chances will be good that whatever you say will show up on a blog within minutes.

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