There's a lot of buzz in physics blogdom about the Strings 07 meeting, which starts today in Spain. They currently have a list of speakers, and promise slides and video to come.

Also, there's a new paper by Edward Witten on the arxiv, cue sound of heavenly choirs:

We consider the problem of identifying the CFT's that may be dual to pure gravity in three dimensions with negative cosmological constant. The c-theorem indicates that three-dimensional pure gravity is consistent only at certain values of the coupling constant, and the relation to Chern-Simons gauge theory hints that these may be the values at which the dual CFT can be holomorphically factorized. If so, and one takes at face value the minimum mass of a BTZ black hole, then the energy spectrum of three-dimensional gravity with negative cosmological constant can be determined exactly. At the most negative possible value of the cosmological constant, the dual CFT is very likely the monster theory of Frenkel, Lepowsky, and Meurman. The monster theory may be the first in a discrete series of CFT's that are dual to three-dimensional gravity. The partition function of the second theory in the sequence can be determined on a hyperelliptic Riemann surface of any genus. We also make a similar analysis of supergravity.

It's 82 pages, so I don't expect I'll be reading it any time soon, but if that's your sort of thing... Well, you probably don't need me to tell you that there's a new Witten paper available.

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No exercise of ink on paper can withstand a reproducible contrary observation. Theory is vassal to experiment. Two allowed and measurable empirical falsifications of metric gravitation remain:

1) Relativistic spin-orbit coupling in binary pulsar PSR J0737-3039A/B. 20 years of observation.

http://www.oakland.edu/physics/mog29/mog29.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein-Cartan_theory

2) Equivalence Principle violation by identical composition, opposite geometric parity mass distributions. 2 days in an analytical lab. String theory is falsified as BRST invariance dies.

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/lajos.htm#a2

Quick, cheap, sensitive

Bill Gates pledges $40+ billion toward buying a Nobel Peace Prize. $5000 and a weekend could do Physics. At worst it SOP validates GR. Somebody should look.

Just clicked on the arxiv link to verify. Ed Witten is the sole author, yet the abstract begins, "We consider...".

So, is this a Royal 'We' or an Editorial 'We'?

Jacques Distler is quasi-live-blogging the meeting, as well, so there are all sorts of Web resources for those who care.

In Witten's case, it is hard to know. Perhaps it is a new duality?

Cool thread. Thanks for the heads up.

Laserprinted the new Witten paper. Carried it around the Caltech campus. First guy who discussed it with me was DINAKAR RAMAKRISHNAN, Professor of Mathematics

[Ph.D., Columbia University, N.Y., 1980;

Research Interests: Number theory, automorphic forms, algebraic geometry, representations of Lie and p-adic groups].

His position was, roughly, we all know that Witten is a great genius, in Math (which may or may not relate to our actual universe) and Physics (which may or may not relate to Math that we understand).

Then he compared this and String Theory to Religion. Then he extolled the virtues of Hindu Mythology as Literature, but questioned the logic of anyone who actually believed it as applying to human life in this specific part of the multiverse.

Then I went off and gave a laserprinted Science Fiction novel manuscript, not by me, about Nanotechnology, already sold (and sequel already sold), to a distinguished professor who does Nanotechnology, in hopes of a sentence for the Press Packet.

C. P. Snow: "The Two Culture" -- demolished twice in an hour at one university campus.