Note added: this article has been updated, and two talks about two-dimensional string theory are briefly described at the bottom.
As Aaron Bergman and Jacques Distler pointed out, Google started another service:
It is a fulltext search engine through all scientific articles, including all articles from www.arxiv.org (the PDF files are those that are linked), and it knows about the number of citations. The server lists the article with the given query and it prefers the cited articles.
For example, search for
You will get all the papers that contain these two words, and the papers where the words appear in the title, and the papers with the large number of citations, will be listed first.
OK, let me know switch to the scientific activity at Harvard. My advisor Tom Banks (now at Rutgers, in spring at UC Santa Cruz) is visiting us, and we have a lot of interesting discussions. Tom says, for example,
- the current research in string theory is not going quite in the right direction
- the connections with the experiments must be understood better
- one of the most important particular problems we must understand is the nature of supersymmetry breaking in string theory, and the possible interrelations between supersymmetry and cosmology
- Tom often emphasizes his viewpoint that the different vacua in string theory really don't belong to the same theory, in the physical sense, because you can't usually create a bubble of one Universe inside another Universe
- he gave me some useful feedback about the matrix generalization of the CFT techniques
- he also presented some insights, questions, and criticism about things like the relation between black hole entropy and topological string theory; about the developments in the "landscape"; and many other issues.
Yesterday, Umut Gürsoy from MIT was speaking at the Duality Seminar about his recent work with Hong Liu about the big bang and big crunch in two-dimensional string theory, as understood from the old matrix models. Some points in that talk:
- Umut talked about the partition sums in "two-dimensional critical string theory", as he called it (the word "critical" seems a bit like a contradiction, but it's just a matter of terminology)
- their two-dimensional string theory was bosonic string theory on a Euclidean S^1/Z_2 orbifold - the two fixed points of the orbifold are the "big bang" and "big crunch"
- although he was talking about bosonic string theory, he said that it was non-perturbatively well-defined; many of us thought that this should only be the case of two-dimensional type 0 theories, but Umut explained that he is expanding in the cosmological constant or what exactly was the expansion parameter
- it seems that he claimed that they can derive the initial and final conditions of the Universe
- many of us, including Tom Banks and me, thought that they only calculated the transition amplitude between two specific states, and by inserting some operators, they could have calculated the amplitude between any other pair of states
Davide Gaiotto delivered the family lunch meeting, and we've listened to another talk by Ian Swanson (Caltech) at 3 PM which is described in one of the newer articles.
Much like Umut, Davide Gaiotto was also talking about the old matrix models
- especially the Kontsevich models - or, more precisely, the Seiberg-Kutasov models
- he's been working on these things with Leonardo Rastelli, and sometimes with other co-authors
- he presented the derivation of the matrix model as a discretization of a cubic open string field theory
- one of his main questions were how the Riemann supersurfaces, including the gravitino fields, should be discretized - and he agreed that the superdirections don't carry any local excitations, and might only influence physics by a determinant and some global constraints (finally, it's not really possible to discretize a fermionic dimension more than it is)
My general skeptical comment at the end: I don't know where this two-dimensional string theory research is going, and I am not able to recognize progress in these papers. What is exactly better about the papers about this subject that are written today compared to those 10 years ago? We don't live in two dimensions and two-dimensional gravity is diferent from the four-dimensional and higher-dimensional gravity in many respects - it has no local gravitational degrees of freedom, for example. The matrix models don't seem to be constrained too much. Is it really a part of the same string theory as the ten-dimensional type IIA string vacuum, for example?