, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-7
Date: 28 Nov 2012

Forty Years of String Theory Reflecting on the Foundations

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Introduction

The history of string theory started around 1970 when Nambu, Nielsen, and Susskind realized that Veneziano’s 1968 dual model, devised to explain the particle spectrum of the strong interactions, actually describes the properties of quantum mechanical strings. A few years later, QCD appeared as a superior model for the strong interactions; furthermore, in 1974 it was realized that strings contain gravitons in their spectrum. For these reasons, many lost interest in the theory, while for some it made an interesting candidate as a unifying theory of gravity and quantum field theory.

Since then, string theory has undergone several metamorphoses and is regarded by the majority of the community as the most promising quantum theory of gravity. Among its results are microscopic computations of black hole entropy and the suggested implication, acknowledged by Hawking, that black holes do not violate quantum theory; spectacular success in describing perturbative and non-perturbative a