There seems to be a peculiar trend going on in the particle theory community. Just about all theorists I talk to, correspond with, argue with on blogs, etc. claim to be quite unhappy with the Landscape, and insist that most of their colleagues share this view. On the other hand, all evidence is that Landscape research is becoming increasingly influential at the highest levels of the string theory community. The most prominent yearly string theory conference, Strings 07, will soon be taking place in Madrid, and titles of many of the talks there have just been announced. The largest contingent of speakers is from Stanford, and it appears likely that landscape studies will be the most popular topic at the conference, with various aspects of AdS/CFT running a close second. Just counting the number of times “Landscape” appears in the title of a talk, so far there are 4 such talks out of 31 with announced titles. Last year at Strings 06, out of about 50 talks, 2 had “Landscape” in the title. Naively extrapolating this eternally inflationary trend to the future, pretty much all Strings 1X talks should be about the Landscape…
Another indication of where the field is going is the yearly TASI summer school aimed at training graduate students in particle theory. This year the topic is “String Universe”, and several of the lecture series are about the Landscape, with two having “Landscape” in the title. Videos of the talks are being made available now, even as the summer school is going on. I learned about this from Clifford Johnson, who writes that the talk he most wanted to look at and recommends to everyone is Raphael Bousso’s on “Cosmology and the Landscape”.
Harvard’s Lubos Motl traditionally has been a landscape skeptic, but in recent months he has been writing more and more positive things about this subject. His latest posting advertises a new paper by Raby and Wingertner calculating statistics on (an extremely small piece of) the heterotic landscape.
Update: Lubos has written a posting entitled Landscape 2007 in response to this one. His point of view seems to be that although he doesn’t like the Landscape, he doesn’t have a workable vacuum selection principle, and as time goes on and no such principle is found, this makes the Landscape more and more likely to be correct. He doesn’t seem to even consider the possibility that the existence of the Landscape and the lack of a vacuum selection principle means that string-based 10/11d unification is just a failed idea. I suspect his point of view may be widely shared among string theorists, explaining the simultaneous unhappiness with the Landscape and its increasingly widespread adoption as a research program.
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