String Theory At Very High Energies

  • David J. Gross
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 173)


In this first talk I will give a abbreviated history of string theory and discuss the present state of affairs. There have been three stages of development in string theory, which more or less correspond to the three main achievements of the theory to date. These are: 1) string theory itself, 2) gravity, and 3) the possible connection to the real world. The first achievement of string theory is the theory itself, the existence of a consistent generalization of field theory or point particle theory to one dimensional extended objects-strings. String theory began as the dual resonance model in 1968, although until the early 70’s one had no idea that one was quantizing strings. It began for rather obscure reasons, which are interesting by now only to historians, having to do with the strong interactions. Eventually people realized that what they were discussing was the relativistic quantization of an extended object or string. The construction of such a generalization from point particle physics to string physics is already a remarkable achievement. There have been very few such achievements in the history of physics. They can easily be enumerated: the transition from particle dynamics to field theory, the jump from Newtonian gravity to general relativity, and the passage from classical to to quantum mechanics. The reason that there are so very few generalizations of the framework of physics which are logically consistent, which agree with previous theories in the appropriate approximation and which are correct is that it is not an easy thing to do. String theory appears to be such a generalization and there are no other contending generalizations at the present time. This is already a minor miracle, that happens rarely in physics, and must be taken seriously and studied.


String Theory Perturbation Theory Modulus Space Saddle Point Riemann Surface 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Gross
    • 1
  1. 1.Joseph Henry LaboratoriesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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