Quarks, Flux Tubes and String Theory Without Calculus

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About Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Mathematics and Physical Sciences lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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The theory of strings started as an attempt to describe the forces holding quarks together. Important remnants of that idea survive in the form of the flux tubes of quantum chromodynamics and their description as “strings” in the gauge-string duality. Applications to quark-gluon plasmas have yielded some of the most quantitative comparisons of string theory with experimental data. For example, the friction generated when a string scrapes along a black hole horizon can be used to estimate drag force on quarks in a thermal medium. More recently, related ideas have appeared in a more mathematical context, providing a formulation of classical string dynamics that avoids calculus and does not depend on the continuous structure of spacetime.

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About the Speaker

Steve Gubser received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, where his advisor was Igor Klebanov. After working as a post doc at the Harvard Society of Fellows and as a faculty member at California Institute of Technology, he returned to Princeton University, where he is presently a professor and the associate chair for undergraduates in the Department of Physics. He is one of the originators of the gauge-string duality and has worked on its applications to nuclear and condensed matter physics. Gubser is also the author of The Little Book of String Theory, a nontechnical account of string theory and its applications to collider physics.

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