Well, I’ve been quiet here because I got rather swamped with lots of things over the last few days. The biggest thing was yesterday. I gave a colloquium at Caltech entitled “Cooking with Quarks and Gluons: Recipes from the String Theory Kitchen”*. The abstract is given below**. It is mostly based on what I wrote about last Summer.
With all the other things I had to do (including writing and giving two fun two hour lectures on cosmology in my undergraduate GR class) I still decided that it was time to totally rethink how I tell this exciting physics story, and how I present it. This meant designing and building many new slides. Each slide can take a long time to prepare, so this took two solid days of hiding away while designing and building them, only breaking for the other stuff.
Well, it was fun in the end, and today I am exhausted. I decided that you should not miss out entirely on the treats, so I made a little movie of the first parts of the talk to tease you into the subject. There’s no soundtrack, and I say a lot more than I write in my talks, so sorry if much of it makes no sense. Please read that post I wrote earlier. It’s also an opportunity to share (for those interested in such things – and see also here) another example of my current mode of presenting slides in these sorts of general talks: Sort of a graphic novel style of narrative. I started doing it in public lectures some time ago, and I got bored with my colloquium-level talks and have gradually been introducing it there too. There’ll be more about this sort of thing later on…
Here’s the movie:
*Riffing on a talk title by Rob Myers.
**Abstract of talk:
Understanding the phase structure of nuclear matter is a fundamental and ongoing challenge in physics, with applications from fundamental particle and nuclear physics to astrophysics. As a theoretical challenge it places us at the edge of what is readily attainable with field theory (quantum chromodynamics) and calls for a diversity of techniques and even a re-examination of our understanding of the true nature of non-perturbative field theory. String theory and (perhaps unexpectedly) gravitational physics may be emerging as the best way of addressing several of the physical questions that arise in various regimes – qualitatively and, increasingly, quantitatively. I describe key features of this growing toolbox of techniques from string theory, some simple but instructive models from current research, and consider prospects for the future.