The World From a Ten-Dimensional Viewpoint

Dr. Oscar Varela
Utah State University
Department of Physics


String theory is our best candidate to account for a unified description of the matter content of nature and its fundamental interactions. A striking prediction of the theory is the existence of extra dimensions: for consistency, strings need to propagate in a ten-dimensional spacetime. How to extract the 4D physics that we observe out of 10D string theory is an all-important open problem. I will explain two different possible avenues to achieve this goal: flux compactifications and the AdS/CFT correspondence. The former assumes that the six extra dimensions are curled up at each point of our usual 4D spacetime into a certain 6D tiny geometry. The latter is based on redundancies in the formulation of the theory which imply that seemingly different systems are actually governed by the same physical laws. I will illustrate this by comparing certain scale-invariant string backgrounds with the quantum critical points thought to arise as ground states of unconventional superconductors.