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String Theory & Cosmology: New Ideas Meet New Experimental Data

This is the golden age of cosmology. Once a philosophical subject, cosmology has burgeoned into a precision science as ground and space-based astronomical observations supply a wealth of unprecedently precise cosmological measurements. Questions that were recently the stuff of speculation can now be analyzed in the context of rigorous, predictive theoretical frameworks whose viability is determined by observational data. To address key questions about our universe, especially at the energy scales characteristic of its earliest moments, one must invoke a theory of quantum gravity, such as string theory. Conversely, observational cosmology is our most promising window for testing fundamental theories at ultra-high energies.

This new Gordon Research Conference will explore this important synergistic interface between cosmology and string theory. The increasingly precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background, new results from large scale structure surveys, and the diverse dark matter/dark energy probes continue to unveil the fundamental laws of Nature. More new results are scheduled to release in the next two years. On the other hand, there has recently been tremendous progress in understanding cosmological solutions in superstring and supergravity theories, string compactifications and their consequences for moduli stabilization and inflation, and embedding dark energy in string theory. Furthermore, superstring theory may naturally provide answers to some of the most profound questions in cosmology. This includes questions concerning the initial big bang singularity, why there are three large spatial dimensions, the observed homogeneity and the flatness of the universe, the small fluctuations embedded in the cosmic microwave background radiation, candidates for the cold dark matter, the cosmological constant and the late time acceleration. Our aim is to promote discussion between cosmologists and string theorists, and we hope that this conference will fuse ideas from these two foundations of theoretical physics. This conference will bring together world leading experts to stimulate further in-depth study in this field as well as the close collaboration among the conference participants in the future. The conference will be multi-disciplinary in nature, covering a wide range of expertise in the intersections of cosmology and string theory, and discuss the connection between theory and experiment. We hope that this conference can serve as a platform for further developments in education, science and technology in this growing area.

China has become a competitive partner in fundamental physics research, as demonstrated in, e.g., the recent discovery of a new type of neutrino transformation by the Daya Bay experiment near Hong Kong. A Joint Consortium for Fundamental Physics has recently been formed among the three main universities in Hong Kong to promote this new initiative. Hence, this Gordon Research Conference will be held in Hong Kong, the gate of China and a meeting point of East and West, and hence an ideal place to coordinate world-wide activities in the field.