The question is pretty much the one of the title. I'm a graduate student in theoretical physics and I notice a lot of professors work in string theory and I ask them to talk about it when they can.

The idea of strings intrigues me but I would like learn as much as possible from people working or studying in the field as to how much it has helped us gain a better understanding of areas such as quantum gravity, superconductors and the holographic principle.

I have read the Wikipedia String Theory article which is very comprehensive but I would really appreciate a chance to hear from anybody working in the field.

I would compare it exactly as if I asked about the benefits of classical electromagnetism or general relativity 100 years ago.

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    $\begingroup$ when in doubt, the answer appears to always be condensed matter physics: from what I can see, that field has a surprising ability to recycle and adapt seemingly unrelated theories for their own needs... $\endgroup$
    – Christoph
    Oct 29 '16 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ See here and here. $\endgroup$ Oct 29 '16 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/2532/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/30197/2451 $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Oct 29 '16 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ The physics stack exchange references by Qmechanics are good. They date to 2011 and 201, and one was closed, and ther is some more emphasis on AdS/CFT, or more exactly on the correspondence of QFT on the boundaries of a bulk gravity String Theory solution (i.e. The holographic principle )that seems to be getting worked on more in the last few years. It is ot an unfair question to ask anew, what are the facts discovered there? Or any other new work and results in ST. I would love to see some answers from real experts,many not opinions. $\endgroup$
    – Bob Bee
    Oct 29 '16 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ I meant: The second one, closed, dates to 2013 with one answer from 2014. And not an unfair question to ask what has happened, on new work, since then. Still worthwhile a revisit from real experts. $\endgroup$
    – Bob Bee
    Oct 29 '16 at 23:38

Aside from a number of interesting mathematical discoveries made in the course of developing String Theory, String Theory and it's related variants are the most likely successors to the Standard Model. While it has been wildly successful as a scientific theory, the Standard Model is far from perfect. Currently, the Standard Model doesn't provide an explanation for gravity, and to the best of my knowledge current attempts to integrate General Relativity and the Standard Model have run into a number of serious problems, such as the cosmological constant problem.

As anna v pointed out, research into String Theory has lead to many of the various proposed resolutions to the problems in the standard model (in the sense of changing the model), and how to better integrate the standard model and general theory into a single, unified theory.

  • $\begingroup$ "it does not improve our understanding" you have to define "improve". As far as I am concerned, an experimentalist, it does improve my understanding of how a unified quantum theory with gravity may emerge. It sets a standard on what a unified theory should include: embedding of the standard model, quantization of gravity. It gives a road map for extensions of the standard model , for supersymmetric particles for example, to be seen in LHC possibly. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Oct 30 '16 at 4:16

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