…Again. I’ll be on the road again this morning. Heading to California State University Long Beach. They invited me to give a colloquium a while back and I agreed, and when I returned from New York last week I realized I needed to urgently spend a chunk of time thinking about what I was going to talk about, and designing a set of slides for it. The last couple of days saw me devoting a lot of time to it. Eventually I decided to dig back into ancient times (the 1990s) surveying some of the interesting things we’ve learned about strong coupling phenomena (involving unexpected reorganization of degrees of freedom and the number of spacetime dimensions at times), and then discuss what it all might be good for in view of work going on in the last decade or so.

Come to think of it just this moment, this is a chance to do a tribute to David Olive, who passed away earlier this month. (He was one of my professors when I was at Imperial College in the ’80s.) Ideas of strong/weak coupling dualities and their utility were given a huge boost by his work in this area from decades ago, perhaps the most famous being Montonen-Olive duality… I must remember to mention that in the talk. (See here for an archive of 2004 talks in celebration of his work. I borrowed the image to the right from there. I do not know who took it.)

Here’s the title and abstract:


Stringy Surprises at Strong Coupling


Research in string theory has diversified remarkably in the last fifteen years, largely due to discoveries about strongly coupled physics. It began with a focus on strongly coupled string theory and, exploiting the unexpected key role of higher dimensional extended objects, “branes”, broadened to strongly coupled field theories. The latter has helped connect string theory to research in nuclear physics and condensed matter physics, with the potential for surprising experimental settings for these ideas.

Should be fun. Sadly, I can’t stop and chat as I must get back on the road and dash back to USC to give my afternoon lecture on electromagnetism. Think I’ll need a nap after that…


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