Thursday, August 16, 2007

Introductory level string theory videos

Still in collaboration with Scitalks I'll post my suggestions for introductory level string theory videos. These are lectures for physicists with a grounding in quantum field theory. I count introductory as the most obvious step up from the previous videos which were popular science level.

Most of these courses are just three or four lectures long, so I want to make a request here.

There are many universities, mostly in the US, who run one semester, or even one year courses on string theory (amongst many other interesting topics). If you know somebody who gives a good course on this subject then I would urge you to suggest that the course is videoed next time it's run. It's a waste not to. For those who aren't lucky enough to be at universities who run long term courses in this subject then please try and share this as an open source course. This doesn't just go for string theory, but for all other subjects too. It just so happens that string theory is the current example. I've said this before and I'll probably say it again.

So, find out of your department will allow this, find a willing lecturer, video the course, upload it to your department web server (this may be a lot of material but servers are pretty huge these days) and send the link to Scitalks.

Anyway, here are some of the best introductory materials on string theory that I could find:

Over at Scitalks there are now two sets of lectures at the appropriate level. One by Barton Zwiebach and one by Clifford Johnson. See below for a set of lectures on perturbative string theory from Clifford too.

There’s another series of lectures by W. Lerche here. I have only been able to read the transparencies, which look broad ranging and reasonably detailed. In the cafe I’m in at the moment I can’t download the video. I would imagine it’s good, but couldn’t guarantee anything.

There is a nice colloquium by Shamit Kachru, who is an excellent speaker, talking about string theory and cosmology here:

If you go to this page, and look on the left for ” Summer School: Strings, Gravity & Cosmology” you will find a host of great videos. Unfortunately it’s really difficult to try and view these independently from their special player (you need IE, too!). The lectures on perturbative string theory, again by Clifford Johnson, are probably excellent and just the right level for first year grad students. I just wish I could rip them and watch them at my own comfort and time. I’ve watched a few, but I just don’t like this format of streaming.

Again, what would be perfect at this point would be a full graduate course in the subject available online.

Next week I'll post links to lectures at a more advanced level, mostly in my field.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all your help and support. Just to let you know, Scitalks also hosts videos for universities if they don't want to host them on their own servers. Thanks - Lee

Randall K said...

Personally I would find videos very helpful! My mental disabilities make it very difficult to comprehend what I read and string theory (what I do understand of it) is a major part of the inspiration of my artworks. (my blog if you'd like to see a few -

Unknown said...

Hi Lee, I'm really happy to be able to help out.

Randall, I find it interesting how science can be inspirational in many different ways. Although as scientists we may sit here and deal with equations all day, we are really drawn to the beauty of science and the understanding of the universe.

Your wormhole storm picture looks like a huge gravitational lensing effect. I'll keep browsing through the great images on your image-kind site. Thanks for the link.


cvj said...

Hi Jon,

Thanks for reminding me that I gave those CERN lectures. I'd completely forgotten that I'd given them and that they were online! The CERN lectures are quite slow and probably quite frustrating for many (I was also stumbling through jetlag, so sorry), unless you want a very leisurely introduction to the basic matters. The Perimeter lectures are probably a bit better (I've not looked at them though) and better paced, as I think I using a blackboard (and was less jetlagged).



Unknown said...

Hi Clifford,

Thanks for the note. I thought your lectures at CERN were just right for a very basic introduction to the subject, with or without jetlag. Sadly though I watched some of the Perimeter lectures while I was in Japan, they seem to be blocked here at the moment. One of many pages which seems to be randomly blocked here in China.

As I note, most of the courses I've found are just 3 or 4 lectures long and pretty basic. A full course, of perhaps 20+ lectures, online from an experienced researcher who has been in the field for a while would be great!

All the best,