August 30 John Schwarz Public Lecture

String Theory in Aspen

Paepcke Auditorium
6:00 pm

Speaker – John Schwarz, Caltech

John Schwarz is the Harold Brown Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He studied mathematics at Harvard (A.B., 1962) and theoretical physics at the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D., 1966). He was a junior faculty member at Princeton University before moving to Caltech in 1972.

Schwarz has attended the Aspen Center for Physics every summer (except one) since 1969. This coincides with the period that he has pursued string theory, even when it was not very popular. He has organized several ACP workshops devoted to string theory and related topics. His 1984 work with Michael Green on ``anomaly cancellation'' – done in Aspen – touched off the so–called “first superstring revolution.” This resulted in string theory becoming mainstream research, which it has remained ever since.

Schwarz's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Dirac Medal of the ICTP, and the Dannie Heineman Prize in Mathematical Physics of the American Physical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has coauthored string theory textbooks in 1987 and 2007, as well as a relativity textbook in 2004.


"String theory" is the name of the main approach being pursued by theoretical physicists who are striving to construct a unified theory of elementary particles and fundamental forces. The goal is to explain and predict phenomena at all distances, ranging from subnuclear to the entire universe. This subject, which has been under development for over 40 years, has been one of the major themes at the Aspen Center for Physics (ACP) throughout the entire period. There have been ACP workshops discussing all of the important developments, and some of them were even made at the ACP. The lecture will survey some of these developments and the role that the ACP has played.