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Tale of Two Theses June 6, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in life, university.

‘Tis the season. For defending, that is! Last week I was on two committee’s – Kareem and Matt’s. They were both excellent. This week I was on Adam’s and then went and watched my friend Grace defend. It was really nice watching a defense where I was expected not to ask questions!

Adam worked with Andreas Karch on a particularly hot topic in string theory right now – the duality between Conformal Field Theories (CFTs) and string theory. These are hot right now because problems that are hard to solve in string theory can be mapped into a CFT, solved fairly easily, and then the solution mapped back. And vice versa. Where string theory is strongly coupled, CFT isn’t, and vice versa is how Adam described it. And if something is weakly coupled you can use all sorts of well known and understood tools , like perturbation theory, to solve the problem. Very cool. The trick, of course, is finding the mapping. A huge amount of work goes into that.

Grace, my non-physics architect friend, was defending her thesis. Check this out: for her research she spent something like 6 months in Copenhagen and the outskirts visiting co-housing communities, helping to cook dinner, eating with the community, and often spending the night. And then taking 100’s of pictures of the architecture, trying to figure out how the social problem of building a successful community intersected with the design of the common house and, to a lesser extent, the layout of the community. I think I understood more of her talk than I did Adam’s after he got into the serious geometries of string theory. What was great about this defense was how many times Grace kept saying "I'm not going to continue on to get a Ph.D." She doth protest a bit too much, I think! 😉 Afterall, she and her "spouse" do own their own company

After attending the master’s defense walking back, my sick sick sick mind collided the two topics:

Today I’d like to discuss the theory of co-housing in an 5 dimensional Anti-deSitter space crossed with a perfect spherical 5 dimensional space. We layout the houses according to the Janus geometry. This of course means they are not supersymmetric, but we anchor them to a Minkowski 4-D brane as usual. The common house lives in the bulk. The strength of the bulk-Minkowski coupling will depend on the design of the common house. For example, one can show a strong coupling occurs with large paths between the houses, protected from the rain (integrate protected operators over a large area).

I could go on…



1. paula - June 7, 2006

ha! I would have said that the intersection between the two presentations was the use of Powerpoint!

2. andy.s - June 7, 2006

you should read “And He Built a Crooked House” by Heinlein.

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