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Gravity, Strings and Particles

New fundamental forces of Nature? New forms of "dark'' energy? Signals from epochs preceding the Big Bang? Is our space-time unique? Only a joint study of the three topics examined in this book - gravity, strings and particles - may provide answers to these questions. Such a study may also provide the key to solving one of the most fascinating mysteries of modern science, namely: Besides time and the three spatial dimensions, how many other dimensions exist in our universe? The book is primarily addressed to readers who do not necessarily have a specific background in physics but are nevertheless interested in discovering the originality and the possible implications of some of the amazing ideas in modern theoretical physics. The emphasis is on conveying ideas rather than explaining formulas, focusing not on what is known but -- mainly -- on what is still unknown. Many parts of the book are devoted to fundamental theoretical models and results which are potentially highly relevant for a deeper understanding of Nature, but are still waiting to be confirmed (or disproved) by experiments. From this point of view, the material of this book may also be of interest to professional physicists, whether or not they work in the field of fundamental interactions.
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Table of Contents

Preface.- Prologue: inside the energy walls of our cradle.- Gravity at small distances.- New fundamental forces of Nature?.- The graviphoton and the dilaton.- Chamaleons and fat gravitons.- New dimensions of space?.- The compact scenario.- The Kaluza-Klein towers and the radion.- A spontaneous compactification.- The brane-world scenario.- The geometric confinement of gravity.- Gravity at large distances.- Extra dimensions strike back.- A new form of dark energy?.- The cosmic quintessence.- The fluctuations of the vacuum energy.- Space, time and space-time.- Maybe the past can change?.- Time and memory.- Time: an intrinsic property of all bodies?.- Maybe space-time is not unique?.- Relative singularities.- Strings and fundamental interactions.- How to quantize extended objects.- Supersymmetry and higher-dimensional spaces.- The five superstrings.- Type IIA and type IIB superstrings.- Type I superstrings.- The two heterotic superstrings.- Conformal invariance and equations of motion.-The dilaton and the topological expansion.- A new symmetry: duality.- Winding strings and large dimensions.- The very early past of our Universe.- String cosmology.- Brane cosmology.- The ekpyrotic scenario.- Brane-antibrane inflation.- Signals from epochs before the Big Bang?.- The cosmic background of relic gravitons.- Conclusion.- References.- Index.

About the Author

Maurizio Gasperini is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Physics Department of the University of Bari, Italy. He is the author of more than 200 publications on gravitational theory, high-energy physics, and cosmology, and has twice won an "Award for Essays on Gravitation" from the Gravity Research Foundation (1996 and 1998). His former posts include a permanent position in the Department of Theoretical Physics at the University of Turin, and three appointments as Scientific Associate at CERN, Theory Division (1993, 1996 and 2005). He has already published 6 books with Springer.


"Gasperini has written the book version of an excellent colloquium talk outlining important questions in modern theoretical physics. ... This book may be particularly useful to mathematicians working in subfields adjacent to theoretical physics, such as mirror symmetry. ... if you're preparing your own colloquium talk about the implications of string theory, Gasperini may provide some inspiration!" (Ursula Whitcher, MAA Reviews,, November, 2015) "True to its subtitle, this book really is `a journey into the unknown.' ... The book is also filled with marvelous insights related to the physics of small distances and high energies. It is suitable for casual readers ... as well as physics students and scientists. ... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic and general readers." (S. Tripathi, Choice, Vol. 52 (5), January, 2015) "The book is addressed to readers who are interested what is going on in modern research on this field without being specialists. ... This book gives an excellent overview on the present state of art and goals of research on the title problem. It can be best recommended to anyone being interested." (K.-E. Hellwig, zbMATH 1315.81003, 2015)

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