Having just finished reading Leonard Susskind's new-ish (i.e. 2005) book "The Cosmic Landscape" (reflections to follow, soonish), it was neat to be alerted to this recent article in Physics World on the current (i.e. 2007) state of string theory. I particularly liked this article since it went into a little more detail and spoke to a reasonably wide cross section of physicists, both eminent and less-eminent (as a less-eminent, I'm always interested in what my peers think, even!). Now, I'm always glad to see RHIC held up as an experimental arena for string theoretic ideas, e.g. this amusing quote from the article, quoting Susskind:
AdS/CFT duality really hit the big time in 2005 when it was responsible for getting string theory a mention in the context of a major experimental result. The reason was that it had enabled researchers at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US to model certain aspects of the quark–gluon plasma – an extreme state of matter in which quarks behave as if they are free particles. At such large separations, the strong force becomes unmanageable analytically, which means that string theory can help out where perturbative QCD fails. Susskind says that by studying heavy-ion collisions you are also studying quantum gravity that is "blown up and slowed down by a factor of 1020".All good, but while I am a proponent that the strongly-interacting systems produced in elementary (p+p, d+Au, e+e-) collisions have deep experimental similarities to the ones produced in A+A collisions, who told them to use what looks like a deuteron-gold event display (shown above) to illustrate the possibility that
Powerful "dualities" between string theory and quantum field theory have allowed researchers to model certain aspects of heavy-ion collisions at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.? I mean, maybe it's not wrong, but it sure lacks, well, drama.