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The Modern Bootstrap

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The original idea of the bootstrap programme, which was popular in the 1960s especially in Cambridge, was that we can think of each ‘elementary’ particle as being made out of all the others, a notion called ‘nuclear democracy’. Thus, in principle, if we know everything about how protons scatter, we can predict everything about pions, and vice versa, thus ‘pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.’ This programme foundered (but not before giving birth to string theory), partly due to its technical difficulty, but mainly because of the success of the reductionist viewpoint of the quark model. However more recently the bootstrap has achieved great successes, not in the strong interactions, but in two- and three-dimensional theories which describe phase transitions in condensed matter, and I’ll describe some of these.

You may read an overview on ‘the Bootstrap model’ here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootstrap_model

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Physics Society series.

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