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Melanie Becker saves the American Express

You should first open this PDF file (600 kB):

What you see are pages 12-13 of the Time magazine for the week of December 26th, 2005 - January 2nd, 2006. American express interviews various holders of their credit cards. This one is no one else than Mike Lazaridis, the inventor of BlackBerry. His wildest dream is to unlock the mysteries of the Universe. His proudest day was the day on which the Perimeter Institute was opened - and surely, Mr. Lazaridis has a very good reason to be proud.

He will have an even better reason to be proud when the final equation describing the Universe will be completed during a debate with his scholars at the Perimeter Institute.

However, the American Express won't inform the readers about one of the most important parts of Mike Lazaridis' life, namely the formulae written on the blackboard behind him. Look at the photograph on the PDF file. Ordinary Americans and Canadians may think that the formulae written on the blackboard are just some random symbols. But ordinary Americans and Canadians may sometimes be wrong.

What you see is actually the Gukov-Vafa-Witten superpotential and its various counterparts, together with a procedure to construct some KKLT-like vacua. These expressions on the blackboard were written by Melanie Becker when she visited the Perimeter Institute and she has offered some amazing stories about them. For example, when she wrote the second form of the superpotential "G /\ J /\ J", Cumrun Vafa, despite being a genius, had argued for several days that it was exact! Of course, Melanie Becker knew better. The superpotential "G /\ J /\ J" receives worldsheet instanton corrections although "G /\ Omega" doesn't.

You see how fascinating stories the readers of the Time magazine miss until they also become readers of The Reference Frame. Or, even better, until they become the readers of the Becker-Becker-Schwarz textbook on string theory that is going to appear in the bookstores pretty soon.

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snail feedback (1) :

reader Quantoken said...


No, you read the blackboard wrong. You see you totally missed the only important thing displayed on the blackboard, that is they should hire a more dilligent cleaner! The notes are written on blackboard during a lecture and afterwards erased. That is how a blackboard should be used. The cleaner did not do his/her job, that's all. It absolutely carry no physics significance whatsoever what happens to be on the blackboard when this photo is taken. And if you think this particular photo gives super string theory a little bit more credit than it deserves, that shows how desperate super string theorists are, not able to make a connection of their theory with the nature.