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The importance of superstring theory. Dimensionality


Pierre Ramond, John Schwarz and André Neveu; superstring theory
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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In 1971 John Schwarz and André Neveu, working I think in Princeton, proposed superstring theory which included both bosons and fermions, unlike the Veneziano-type string theory. And also didn't have the negative mass squared particle, scalar particle. It did however have a mass-less spin two particle, which was certainly not anything like what was observed for the hadrons. But I was impressed with that theory. I thought there was something really splendid about it. I was also impressed with Pierre Ramond's work, which had in part paved the way for this superstring proposal, and I invited both of them to Caltech. And Ramond stayed there for a number of years until he left to head a theory group at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, and John is still there with a… a chair in physics.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Princeton University, Caltech, University of Florida, Gainesville, John Schwarz, André Neveu, Pierre Ramond

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2006

Date story went live: 29 September 2010