String Theory for the Scientifically Curious

Public outreach talk
Amanda Peet, University of Toronto

[Amanda Peet's avatar]


What: Natural Philosophers' Club meeting (open to the general public)
When: March 13th 2012 at 19:30h
Where: Room MP408, 60 St George Street, MP building at UofT


String theory, a part of modern theoretical physics, has wiggled its way into the popular consciousness during the past decade. While the details are technically complicated, the basic idea is stunningly simple - that the fundamental Lego blocks making up matter and force are tiny vibrating strings (rather than infinitely small particles). Some people presenting string theory to the public, like Brian Greene, emphasize its mathematical beauty. By contrast, this presentation will focus on the powerful physics motivations for the invention and development of string theory.

Ideas on the menu will include: cosmology, particle physics, the epic clash between quantum mechanics and Einstein's general relativity, string theory basics, extra dimensions of space, D-branes, the Large Hadron Collider, and Stephen Hawking's black hole information paradox. The presentation will be largely self-contained; no physics or math background will be assumed, other than a layperson's curiosity about physical science.

Amanda Peet is a Professor of Physics and a Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. They hold a B.Sc.(Hons) from the University of Canterbury and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Their awards include a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship. They were one of the string theorists interviewed in the three-part NOVA PBS documentary "Elegant Universe". They grew up in the South Pacific island nation of Aotearoa/New Zealand and have a web site at ap.io/home.

The talk itself will run for one hour. Afterwards, the speaker will field questions from the audience about the physics.


Resources for laypeople

Web sites and videos


Resources for university physics students

Stuff I wrote

Stuff other people wrote