Most of my time currently is taken by teaching string theory to advanced undergrads and new grad students. This is the first proper course that I teach and I find this even more entertaining than anticipated. The first half of the course was based on Zwiebach's book, but I took some shortcuts (not discussing so much of the classical theory, I used Polyakov's rather than the Nambu-Goto action and went to conformal gauge immediately, finally I treated closed strings first and only then discussed boundary conditions). For the second half, I am aiming more at the modern stuff: I hope I will cover some M-Theory (more or less the content of the classic string theory dynamics in various dimensions and show how to compute the v^4/r^7 in M(atrix) theory.
So far, I am particulary proud of two lectures I did: The first started with formal boundary conditions and in the end I had convinced everybody that D-branes are dynamical objects all by mainly drawing comic pictures of D-branes and strings. The other one was a one hour introduction to spinors and Clifford algebras in all dimensions. Today, I will hand out a problem set that asks the students to show that 10D SYM is supersymmetric (based on the appendix of chapter 4 in GSW.
Hmm, do my students read this???).
Given they only knew quantum mechanics at the beginning of the term, I think (hope) they have learnt a lot.
The other thing is, that my position here at IUB is paid by a project from the DFG, the German science foundation that is part of the string theory progam they run and is supposed to be about applications of non-commuative geometry.
Thus I got back into these matters and recently at the "Beyond the standart model" workshop I wanted to talk about something else then the Loop String (I will do this again in two weeks time in Hannover) so I put out a proposal how to properly define the free, decoupled center of mass U(1) for a D-brane with constant B-field which induces non-commutativity.
Next Monday, I will present this as well at the DFG string Schwerpunkt (center of mass,
Finally, I also had my birthday recently. Among the things I got was a jigsaw puzzle (my dad proved questionable test when he picked that picture. The motivation appears to be that A. and I quite liked the Hopper exhibition at Tate Modern last summer). The other thing I got is a digital camera, so now, you, dear readers of my blog, can watch my progress with the puzzle.
On day one I did some basic sorting and assembled part of the boundary and the jelly bears:
On day two, I finished the boundary and made some progress on the bulk:
I wonder if everybody has this holographic approach to do puzzles? Furthermore, it's really like string theory: You work out some local bit (e.g. a pink jelly bear) and then this medium size structure just fits with what you have done before on a global scale. Amazing.