74 Questions

open_questions_cvjHello from the Aspen Center for Physics. One of the things I wanted to point out to you last month was the 74 questions that Andy Strominger put on the slides of his talk in the last session of the Strings 2014 conference (which, you may recall from earlier posts, I attended). This was one of the “Vision Talks” that ended the sessions, where a number of speakers gave some overview thoughts about work in the field at large.

Andy focused mostly on progress in quantum gravity matters in string theory, and was quite upbeat. He declines (wisely) to make predictions about where the field might be going, instead pointing out (not for the first time) that if you look at the things we’ve made progress on in the last N years, most (if not all) of those things would not have been on anyone’s list of predictions N years ago. (He gave a specific value for N, I just can’t recall what it is, but it does not matter.)

He sent an email to everyone who was either speaking, organising, moderating a session or similarly involved in the conference, asking them to send, off the top of their head (i.e., without over-thinking it), an open research question along to him, with a hint, to be included in a list he’d mention in the talk and leave on his archived slides for people to think about. That is the origin of the 74 questions, and you can find them in his slides here (direct link to pdf file).

I think that it is a great slice of thoughts that might themselves be thought-provoking. At the very least, it is a nice snapshot of what’s on the minds of a cross-section of the field (you can even see the names of the submitters, in most cases.) These questions might even lead to some ideas and results, so if interested, go and have a look!

-cvj

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