Synopsis: String theory on the brane

Branes are multidimensional objects that arise in the formulation of string theory. Finding more general ways to describe these objects mathematically often leads to new insights into string theory itself.
Synopsis figure
Illustration: Alan Stonebraker

M2-branes are objects that arise in a theoretical framework, called M-theory, which is conjectured to unify all string theories. Accumulated evidence suggests that at low energies, M-theory has a unique well-known 11-dimensional Lagrangian description that includes gravity, among other interactions. In this description, M2-branes are membranelike classical solutions that span two dimensions in space.

Branes of any dimension often yield surprises when considered in multiple numbers. For instance, stacks of certain branes in string theory are described in terms of supersymmetric gauge theories. This relationship of stacks of branes and gauge theories has led to a variety of important results and insights into gauge theories themselves.

Jonathan Bagger (The Johns Hopkins University) and Neil Lambert (King’s College, London) found that multiple M2-branes are described most naturally in terms of a new mathematical structure that they call a three-algebra. Writing in Physical Review D, Bagger and Lambert build on their previous work to consider more general M2-brane configurations. The new theories they construct are based on less restrictive three-algebras than was thought possible previously and open up intriguing new directions.

The results reported here have implications both for a better understanding of M-theory and the low-energy dynamics of gauge theories in 2+1 (space+time) dimensions. – Ansar Fayyazuddin


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Particles and Fields

Previous Synopsis

Quantum Physics

Equality for quantum graphs

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Shaking atoms to make them stop

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Trailing the Photons from Neutron Decay
Nuclear Physics

Synopsis: Trailing the Photons from Neutron Decay

A high-precision measurement of the photons emitted by neutron decays brings researchers closer to a new test of the standard model. Read More »

Focus: Low Cost Polarized Positrons
Particles and Fields

Focus: Low Cost Polarized Positrons

A new technique requires much less energy to produce a beam of polarized positrons than previous techniques, making such beams potentially more widely available. Read More »

Synopsis: Lightweight Particles Might Explain Missing Lithium

Synopsis: Lightweight Particles Might Explain Missing Lithium

The apparent lack of lithium in the Universe, relative to theoretical expectations, could be explained by hypothetical lightweight and electrically neutral particles. Read More »

More Articles