Sunday, July 07, 2013

Cumrun Vafa: Strings and the magic of extra dimensions

One month ago, Cumrun Vafa's son determined that he needed to go to Bangalore, South Central India, and because Cumrun is a good father, he went with him.

So why wouldn't he give a public talk (one hour and one second) about strings and the magic of extra dimensions at the local campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research?

In the first sentence, Vafa denies that he was there by pure coincidence. He always wanted to visit India etc. ;-)

The sound quality isn't great... Moreover, you constantly hear the transmission from cell phones. Bangalore is a major global center of outsourcing and telephone services for various corporations so the audience may be just working while listening to Cumrun. :-)

He starts with Newton, a galaxy, and the flat space. Then (6:55) he shows the same smoking Einstein animation that I am using in my public talks as well. :-)

Around 7:00, the space already gets curved and waving. Straight lines in spaces of positive and negative curvature look like attraction or repulsion. LOL, at 12:24, there's another exact picture from my public talks, the structure of the atom. I suspect that Cumrun may have used the file of mine. ;-) Yes, I use this exact picture of Feynman at 12:50 and the animated Feynman diagram at 13:05, too. :-)

Disasters from the QFT+GR union; strings arrive around 15:00. He recalls the bizarre birth of string theory – a cute formula; there seem to be strings in it. 16:50, quark goes to string, another animated GIF from my public talks. The same about the animated string Feynman diagram at 17:35. Just to be sure, I gave Cumrun the permission to use anything used in my presentations, especially because I didn't create most of these pictures. Yup, 17:55, another one. Here he's also saying very similar things that I am saying at similar places of my talks and this agreement comes from two independently thinking brains.

At 30:30, Cumrun declares the string dualities to be the deepest discovery made by physicists in a century. Quite a big statement but surely a justifiable one. He says many excited things about the magic that a dual description emerges in each regime and we don't know how. It was a surprise and we don't quite know why it happens. Well, I sort of feel that I know why it has to happen. The issue is that in any asymptotic limit, there has to be a simplification and a hierarchy between energies from various objects/contributions and if a new low-energy continuum forms, it may always be organized into states of an object with a certain number of dimensions.

Lots of brane physics etc. Around 46:20, a stringy calculation of the CKM matrix is boasted. Smooth topology changing processes. We should be proud about the extra dimensions, not ashamed of them.


  1. Luboš, how come he's on You Tube and you're not?

  2. Dear Lumo,

    die you not once say that Cumrum Vafa's sons played football with is laptop once... :-D?

    I look forward to watch this later before sleep :-).

    I hope that the talk did convince some people that mathematical relationship such as dualities in string theory for example are interesting.

    I presently have an issue with Chris White, who does not understand such things at all as I am trying to reopen an interesting question

    Chris is quite dismissive concerning such things ... :-/

  3. I am too much on YouTube, way more than Vafa.

  4. Update:

    Here we clearly see the phase transition that has taken place. In the earlier days, there were many experts on Physics SE that protested when such good questions get closed, whereas the current only in popular and very basic questions interested crowd that populates the server today downvotes research-level question and upvote dismissive about cutting edge physics comments such as done by Chris White for example.

    Not even Qmechanic (who is a gem) can save or protect people who want to do higher level physics and their questions there ... :-/

  5. Now I'll watch this talk to cheer me up, because (I suspect it was) Manishearth who has banned a 13 year old bright kid who is seriously interested in fundamental physics

    for pointing out clearly if and what is wrong with nonsense posts etc. He did not call people names, insult anybody, or anything like that, just because a user who can not stomach being told wrong has complaind about this 13 year old kid just because another slighly older user has complained in meta

    Well done ...

  6. What do you think of

  7. antonio carlos pocobiJul 8, 2013, 7:37:00 PM

    is hard to imagine the universe without strings,or without extradimensions that explain the differents asymmetries that appear in the physical universe
    observed by the human mathematics.the human mind generate groups each once largest that the proper universe can fill all ours structures of symmetries that give reality to the cosmos.the extradimensions are the hidden dimensions that give the differentsversions of the universe that observe.