Strings Meet Loops

Martin Bojowald, Albert-Einstein-Institute, Potsdam, Germany
During October 29-31, 2003 the Albert-Einstein-Institute in Potsdam, Germany hosted the Symposium ``Strings Meet Loops'' which was organized by Abhay Ashtekar and Hermann Nicolai. The primary purpose was to bring together researchers working on string theory on the one hand, and on canonical and loop quantum gravity on the other, and to enhance the exchange of ideas between the two communities. Correspondingly, the program consisted of talks that were primarily addressed to the other community: four from string theorists (Kasper Peeters, Bernard de Wit, Michael Douglas and Jan Plefka) and four from the loop community (Abhay Ashtekar, Jurek Lewandowski, Martin Bojowald and Laurent Freidel). They provided broad overviews of the current areas of active research in both approaches, focusing on conceptual frameworks and physical issues. In addition, there were two talks of interest to both programs but not explicitly belonging in either (Marc Henneaux and Max Niedermaier) as well as Introductory Remarks by Hermann Nicolai and Closing Remarks by Abhay Ashtekar. Over 50 participants from Europe, US and Canada attended the symposium. In addition, researchers from the Perimeter Institute and Rutgers participated in the afternoon sessions via video camera. (The full program and images of the transparencies used in the talks will remain available for download from the web page

The main purpose of all the talks was to serve as concrete platforms for subsequent discussions for which plenty of time was allotted by the organizers and used by the participants. In fact, the discussions quickly extended from the material covered in the preceding talk to its general area, resulting in a lively exchange of viewpoints from the different perspectives represented by members in the audience. In this regard, the hopes of the organizers were exceeded by the vibrant atmosphere during the symposium which resulted in frank discussions of the main open problems and of expectations toward the other community concerning issues which should be addressed in the future. Several prevalent misunderstandings have been clarified in these discussions.

The success of the symposium can also be seen in the interest from different sides to organize a a second symposium ``Strings Meet Loops: 2,'' in the future.

Jorge Pullin 2004-03-12