Yet the results Witten obtained led to the Britto, Cachazo, and Feng papers, including the one written with Witten himself, which managed to pull from the string theory developments some key insights that were needed for more general calculations. From there we follow the results to BlackHat, whose leaders all did some amount of string theory early in their careers but who turned by choice to practical calculations and invented many new techniques themselves. They’re exactly the sort of people you’d expect to dismiss these efforts by string theorists as naive. But no. They credit Britto et al. prominently for a key insight that makes BlackHat possible. And finally we arrive back at the dinner table, with me listening to Joe Incandela, who, fresh from the completion of the CMS paper on the observation of the Higgs-like particle, is praising BlackHat for its contribution to searches for new phenomena in CMS data. It’s only a few steps from Incandela to Witten — from experiment to the most apparently-useless edge of string theory.

This is a really insightful article describing the place of String Theory in physics today. If you are at all interested in the combination of physics and computation, you’ll learn something about current high energy physics research, the place of computation in understanding physical theories, and the worth of String Theory as a sub-discipline in physics.

**Highly** recommended. Read the whole thing.