What is duality in string theory

13.07.2018 08:52

A different world formula

Gunnar Bartsch Press and public relations
Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg

From July 30 to August 3, 2018, theoretical physicists from all over the world will meet at the University of Würzburg. As part of the “Gauge / Gravity Duality 2018” conference, they want to reconnect fundamental questions of theoretical physics with modern applications.

The search for the “world formula” on which all physical processes are based is a driving concept of modern research in physics. Scientists all over the world are working on using this formula to reconcile the laws of quantum physics and gravity.

However, the search for the world formula also produces new concepts and methods that are important in completely different areas of physics. One such concept is “duality”, with which strongly coupled quantum systems can be described. These are widespread and even have technological applications, but defy conventional description. The "duality" solves these quantum systems in an original way by mapping them to theories of gravity.

Information about the conference

Among other things, this theory will be dealt with by scientists, which will take place from Monday, July 30th to Friday, August 3rd at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg (JMU). The 150 participants come from very different research areas in physics, namely from string theory, relativity theory, solid state physics, elementary particle physics and quantum information theory. At the conference they will introduce and discuss unexpected new connections between fundamental questions and applications in physics.

The conference is organized by Johanna Erdmenger. The professor was appointed to the JMU in October 2016; there she holds the chair of Theoretical Physics III.

Black holes and superconductors

One possible candidate for a world formula is provided by the so-called string theory - after the English string for string. It says that the smallest particles are not point-shaped, but rather extended vibrating strings. The new concept of duality follows from the string theory, i.e. an equivalence between quantum theories without gravitation on the one hand and gravitation theories on the other.

"The duality of quantum and gravitation theories is not only of fundamental, but also of practical importance: it enables strongly coupled quantum systems to be better understood by mapping them to more easily solvable classical theories of gravity," explains Johanna Erdmenger. Strongly coupled systems occur in solid state physics as well as in elementary particle physics. One application example is the electrical conductivity properties of high-temperature superconductors. “An important question in this context is to what extent electrons in a conductor can be described as a liquid in the context of hydrodynamics,” says the physicist.

The properties of black holes, which were recently observed directly in the universe for the first time, can possibly also be described using this approach. “With black holes, there are still many open questions about the structure of space-time and, in particular, about its information content,” says Erdmenger. Duality offers new approaches here by mapping the physics of black holes to quantum information theory. The question of the physics of a quantum computer is thus linked to the question of the quantum nature of black holes.


Prof. Dr. Johanna Erdmenger, Chair for Theoretical Physics III
T: +49 931 31-85131, [email protected]

Additional Information:

http://ggd2018.physik.uni-wuerzburg.de To the conference website

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Physics / astronomy
Scientific meetings