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STRINGS 2012 - International Conference on String Theory in Munich
22 May 2012
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)
Hundreds of string theorists meet each year to discuss their research at an international conference. STRINGS 2012 takes place in Munich, and is organized jointly by LMU Munich, the Max-Planck Institute for Physics, the Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics, and the Universe Cluster of Excellence at the Technical University of Munich.
Physics textbooks describe the submicroscopic make-up of matter and the structure of the Universe in terms of elementary particles and physical forces. In string theory, matter and fundamental forces arise from the vibrational modes of one-dimensional strings. String theory is one of the most active and exciting research areas in modern theoretical physics, and has aroused much interest among the wider public.
Since 1986, string theorists have assembled annually to review progress in the field. “STRINGS is without doubt the most important, and the largest, conference on the subject,” says Professor Dieter Lüst, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for STRINGS 2012. “We are delighted to hold this year’s meeting in Munich, where leaders in the field, including David Gross, Nobel Laureate and one of the originators of the theory, will review the latest developments. There is a great deal going on at the moment. String theory is taking on an interdisciplinary character at the intersection between mathematics and physics, and serving as a tool for studying very basic issues in physics.”
A Truly Universal Theory
String theorists seek to unite all physical forces in a single universal theory – including the unification of the five different versions of string theory proposed by Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Following this successful unification of the string theories, a theory of everything seems closer than ever. However, all string theories predict the existence of extra dimensions of space, which do not impinge directly on our everyday world, but could have repercussions for the physics of our Universe. If string theories are unable to uniquely define the exact nature of the extra dimensions, the question arises of whether a “multiverse” exists.
Desperately Seeking SUSY
Physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator in Geneva, are closing in on the Higgs boson – and are looking for particles postulated by the theory of Supersymmetry (SUSY). SUSY predicts that each of the known types of elementary particle has an, as yet undiscovered, partner. If supersymmetric particles can be detected by the LHC, their properties could help to pin down which concept of the hidden dimensions best describes the Universe we live in.
The Universe as a Hologram
Another significant and much discussed topic is the attempt to formulate a holographic description of the Universe. The holographic principle allows one to generate a three-dimensional image or hologram from a two-dimensional surface. Juan Maldacena has invoked this principle in the context of string theory to link Einstein’s Theory of Gravity with quantum physics. These ideas have not only led to deeper insights into the nature of quantum gravity, they are already being fruitfully applied in other fields, such as solid-state physics. Indeed, it turns out that gravitational solutions that describe black holes can also account for the properties of metals and superconductors.
Save the date – Press Conference and Public Lectures
A press conference on STRINGS 2012 will be held on Tuesday, 24. July 2012 at 13:00. Further details will be dispatched at a later date.
In addition to the formal proceedings of the Conference, the following lectures are planned for members of the public:
Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will present a lecture entitled "Die ‘Weltmaschine’ LHC am CERN – Einblicke in das Frühe Universum".
Professor Edward Witten of the IAS in Princeton will review the latest developments in string theory and give a lecture on “String Theory And The Universe”. (sz/suwe/am)