Joël Scherk (1946-1980)
In memoriam Joël Scherk
Joël Scherk died on May 16, 1980. Although 33 years old, he had made many very important discoveries in dual string theory and supergravity, as will be manifest in this review. It is striking to note how logical and sustained the development of his thinking was.
His first important contribution was the renormalization of the one-loop open dual string amplitude. Then he developed the idea of the zero-slope limit when all masses except the lightest tend to infinity, and found that this leads to quantum field theories. In particular the closed string sector yielded general relativity, and from then on he was fascinated by gravitation. The one-loop contributions of the open string model in $d = 26$ dimensions were shown to correspond to a new ghost-free set of states, corresponding to closed Strings and interpreted as Pomeron states. One of these states was described by an antisymmetric tensor gauge field, which is nowadays of interest. Then he started wondering what happens with the extra dimensions in our four-dimensional world. This led him to the idea of spontaneous compactification of space-time, extending ideas of Kalusza and Klein.
In supergravity he started by solving the matter coupling problem and worked out the super-Higgs effect. Then he constructed the $N = 3$ supergravity, and both the $SO(4)$ and the $SU(4)$ versions of $N=4$ extended supergravity. The latter model was suggested by taking the zero slope limit of the $d = 10$ dimensional closed string dual model with fermions. The $d = 10$ open string model yielded in the zero slope limit $N = 4$ supersymmetric Yang—Mills theory. In the $SU(4)$ model he found a noncompact $SU(1, 1)$ global symmetry, and in the $N = 2, 3, 4$ models he gave a complete treatment of the duality and chiral symmetries. He then formulated $N = 1 d = 11 supergravity$, which yields the $N=8$ $d=4$ model upon dimensional reduction. He also developed the idea of spontaneous symmetry breaking by means of dimensional reduction, and worked out the particle spectrum. There he found a massless vector boson and proposed the idea that it yields the (testable) force of antigravity.
Despite this impressive record, Joel was a relaxed and very friendly person. He was among the best and most pedagogical speakers and his articles were crystal clear. He was always open to discussion and had a very developed sense of humour. He also contributed actively to the popularization of theoretical physics by radio talks, lectures for lay-men and articles in popular scientific magazines.
On the early theory of relativistic strings (Nambu-Goto action) then motivated a explanations of the “dual resonance model” for hadrons (cf. Polyakov gauge-string duality):
On the GSO projection for the spinning string/superstring:
F. Gliozzi, Joël Scherk, D. I. Olive, Supersymmetry, supergravity theories and the dual spinor model, Nucl. Phys, B122, 253 (1977)
F. Gliozzi, Joël Scherk, D. I. Olive, Supersymmetry, Supergravity Theories and the Dual Spinor Model, Nucl. Phys. B 122 (1977), 253 (spire)
Introducing D=11 supergravity:
On the Scherk-Schwarz mechanism:
Joël Scherk, John Schwarz, Spontaneous breaking of supersymmetry through dimensional reduction, Physics Letters B Volume 82, Issue 1, 12 March 1979, Pages 60-64 (doi:10.1016/0370-2693(79)90425-8)
Joël Scherk, John Schwarz, How to get masses from extra dimensions, in: Supergravities in Diverse Dimensions, pp. 1282-1309 (1989) (doi:10.1142/9789814542340_0083)
Last revised on February 19, 2024 at 09:59:27. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.