String Theory: A Theory of Anything? A Theory of Nothing? A Theory? Professor Lawrence M. Krauss
Case Western Reserve University
The long-standing fascination that physicists, as well as artists and writers, have had for the idea that there are more dimensions to the universe than meets the eye, will be discussed. The discussion continues with, how modern research in string theory has evolved from a long history of extrapolating from real physical problems to abstract solutions that may involve new, hidden physics, and possible hidden new dimensions to the universe. In the process the idea for string theory arose, but it has really not progressed far beyond the 'hope' for a theory in the past 25 years. Moreover, this 'hoped-for' theory has morphed from a possible "theory of everything" in the 1980's to a possible "theory of anything" in the past decade. Whether this new focus on the question of whether the laws of nature represent a mere environmental accident,--via something called the anthropic principle--or whether they are based on fundamental immutable principles will represent the end of fundamental knowledge remains to be seen.
String Theory: What is it Good for?
Professor John Terning University of California, Davis
The beginnings of string theory as an attempt to understand strongly bound quarks will be reviewed. How string theory evolved into a theory of quantum gravity will also be covered before moving on to more recent developments including the Maldacena conjecture and it's applications to heavy ion collisions, the five dimensional Randall-Sundrum model, and a possible origin for the electron mass.