That is amazing! I can't access my blog (or any blog at blogspot) from Beijing but I can write a post! Probably because to write a post the address is different (blogger instead of blogspot). So let us see for how long I can write. Also, no wireless is available making things more difficult.
Strings 2006 started with 3 public lectures in the Great Hall this morning. The very same place where the communist party holds its meetings. It is quite an impressive building! Besides the string conference participants the place was completely full with high school students. Around 3000 people altogether! The Chinese are investing heavily in education and also getting money from abroad. Two new institutes are being built in China with private donations! And if China gets the international linear collider it will soon became the leader in HEP. No doubt about that.
The first to speak was Gross with a popular talk on strings. The next one was Strominger and surprisingly he started talking in Chinese. The Chinese students liked a lot. He then turned to English to deliver the talk. He presented many cartoons to explain strings and black holes. I was told that he spent one year in China when he was young and then learnt Chinese. That may explain one of his cartoons where he put G. Bush near a black hole to illustrate that everything that goes inside the black hole falls in nothingness. The last lecture in the morning was given by Hawking. Complete chaos until everybody got a picture from him. Then he talked about cosmology and the big bang. No questions were allowed since it was late. Students were asked to write questions which will be answered on Wednesday. The authors of the selected questions will be able to have a picture side by side with Hawking! That is the way to attract young minds to science in Chinese way!
In the afternoon the first lecture was given by Witten on the Langlands program. Essentially the introduction of his 250 pages paper. At the end just one question, whether it could have any application in physics. Witten said that there is an application in his paper. Then Vafa talked about the swampland but nothing new was announced. The next two talks, by Shih and Intriligator, were about the metastable vacua in susy theories. Really nice talks. Then Ooguri talked about the possible uses of the metastable vacua in the landscape. And the final talk was by Yin.
In the evening we had the panel discussion with 13 people. Strominger was chairing it. No real debate. Too mild. Some interesting questions but none of them provocative enough. No discussion on the landscape either. Toronto was much better...