Swampland Seminar Series

During the 2021-22 academic year, the CMSA will be co-hosting a seminar on Swampland, with the Harvard Physics Department, organized by Miguel Montero, Cumrun Vafa, Irene Valenzuela. This seminar is a part of the Swampland Program. This seminar will take place on Mondays at 10:30am – 12:00pm (Boston time). To learn how to attend, please subscribe here.

Talks will be posted on the Swampland Seminars YouTube channel.

The schedule below will be updated as talks are confirmed.

9/13/2021John Stout (Harvard)Title: Decoding Divergent Distances

Abstract: Motivated by a relationship between the Zamolodchikov and NLSM metrics to the so-called quantum information metric, I will discuss recent work (2106.11313) on understanding infinite distance limits within the context of information theory. I will describe how infinite distance points represent theories that are hyper-distinguishable, in the sense that they can be distinguished from “nearby” theories with certainty in relatively few measurements. I will then discuss necessary and sufficient ingredients for the appearance of these infinite distance points, illustrate these in simple examples, and describe how this perspective can help the swampland program.
9/20/2021Manki Kim (MIT)Title: Small Cosmological Constants in String Theory

Abstract: We construct supersymmetric AdS4 vacua of type IIB string theory in compactifications on orientifolds of Calabi-Yau threefold hypersurfaces. We first find explicit orientifolds and quantized fluxes for which the superpotential takes the form proposed by Kachru, Kallosh, Linde, and Trivedi. Given very mild assumptions on the numerical values of the Pfaffians, these compactifications admit vacua in which all moduli are stabilized at weak string coupling. By computing high-degree Gopakumar-Vafa invariants we give strong evidence that the α 0 expansion is likewise well-controlled. We find extremely small cosmological constants, with magnitude < 10^{-123} in Planck units. The compactifications are large, but not exponentially so, and hence these vacua manifest hierarchical scale-separation, with the AdS length exceeding the Kaluza-Klein length by a factor of a googol.
9/27/2021Eran Palti (Ben Gurion)Title: Convexity of Charged Operators in CFTs and the Weak Gravity Conjecture

Abstract: In this talk I will introduce a particular formulation of the Weak Gravity Conjecture in AdS space in terms of the self-binding energy of a particle. The holographic CFT dual of this formulation corresponds to a certain convex-like structure for operators charged under continuous global symmetries. Motivated by this, we propose a conjecture that this convexity is a general property of all CFTs, not just those with weakly-curved gravitational duals. It is possible to test this in simple CFTs, the conjecture passes all the tests performed so far.
10/18/2021Thomas Van Riet (KU Leuven)Title: The Festina Lente Bound 

Abstract: I will explain what the Festina Lente bound means and where it comes from. Then I discuss its possible implications for  phenomenology, both top-down and bottom-up.
10/25/2021Joe Conlon (Oxford)Title: Exploring the Holographic Swampland

Abstract: I describe our work looking at `traditional’ scenarios of moduli stabilisation from a holographic perspective. This reveals some interesting structure that is not apparent from the top-down perspective. For vacua in the extreme regions of moduli space, such as LVS in type IIB or the DGKT flux vacua in type IIA, the dual moduli conformal dimensions reduce to fixed values – in a certain sense, the low-conformal dimension part of the CFT is unique and independent of the large number of flux choices. For the DGKT flux vacua these conformal dimensions are also integer, for reasons we do not understand.
11/01/2021Pieter Bomans (Princeton) Title: Bubble instability of mIIA on AdS_4 x S^6

Abstract: Recently, a set of non-supersymmetric AdS_4 vacua of massive type IIA string theory has been constructed. These vacua are perturbatively stable with respect to the full KK spectrum of type mIIA supergravity and furthermore, they are stable against a variety of non-perturbative decay channels. Hence, at this point, they represent a serious challenge to the AdS swampland conjecture. In my talk, I will review in detail the construction of these vacua as well as introduce a new decay channel, ultimately sealing their fate as being unstable.
11/15/2021Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS), and Gary Shiu (UW-Madison) This week’s seminar will be an open mic discussion which will be led by Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS), and by Gary Shiu (UW-Madison), and the topic will be “Swampland constraints, Unitarity and Causality”. They will start with a brief introduction sharing their thoughts about the topic and moderate a discussion afterwards. 

11/22/2021Thomas Grimm (Utrecht University)Title: Taming the Landscape

Abstract: In this talk I will introduce a generalized notion of finiteness that provides a structural principle for the set of effective theories that can be consistently coupled to quantum gravity. More concretely, I will propose a ‘tameness conjecture’ that states that all scalar field spaces and coupling functions that appear in such an effective theory must be definable in an o-minimal structure. The fascinating field of tame geometry has seen much recent progress and I will argue that the results can be used to support the above swampland conjecture. The strongest evidence arises from a new finiteness theorem for the flux landscape which is shown using the tameness of the period map. 
11/29/2021Timm Wrase (Lehigh University)Title: Scale separated AdS vacua?

Abstract: In this talk I will review massive type IIA flux compactifications that seem to give rise to infinite families of supersymmetric 4d AdS vacua. These vacua provide an interesting testing ground for the swampland program. After reviewing potential shortcomings of this setup, I will discuss recent progress on overcoming them and getting a better understanding of these solutions.
12/6/2021Lars Aalsma (University of Wisconsin-Madison)Title: Extremal Black Hole Corrections from Iyer-Wald

Abstract: Extremal black holes play a key role in our understanding of various swampland conjectures and in particular the WGC. The mild form of the WGC states that higher-derivative corrections should decrease the mass of extremal black holes at fixed charge. Whether or not this conjecture is satisfied depends on the sign of the combination of Wilson coefficients that control corrections to extremality. Typically, corrections to extremality need to be computed on a case-by-case basis, but in this talk I will present a universal derivation of extremal black hole corrections using the Iyer-Wald formalism. This leads to a formula that expresses general corrections to the extremality bound in terms of the stress tensor of the perturbations under consideration, clarifying the relation between the WGC and energy conditions. This shows that a necessary condition for the mild form of the WGC to be satisfied is a violation of the Dominant Energy Condition. This talk is based on 2111.04201.

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