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Uncovering Geometric "Theory Space"

In the 1960s, the charismatic physicist Geoffrey Chew, Member (1956) in the School of Mathematics/Natural Sciences, espoused a radical vision of the universe, and with it, a new way of doing physics, arguing that "Nature is as it is because this is the only possible nature consistent with itself.” He believed he could deduce nature’s laws solely from the demand that they be self-consistent. Particles, Chew said, “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”

Recently, the bootstrap method has been re-energized. As the new generation of bootstrappers, including Professor Nima Arkani-Hamed and Carl P. Feinberg Professor Juan Maldacena, current Member David Simmons-Duffin, Member (2010–13) Thomas Hartman, and Junior Visiting Professor (2015–16) and Member (2011–12) David Poland in the School of Natural Sciences, explore this abstract theory space, they seem to be verifying the vision that Chew, now 92 and long retired, laid out half a century ago—but they’re doing it in an unexpected way.

Read more at Quanta


February 23, 2017