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Final Activity Report Summary - STRINGS04 (Strings'04')

The large conference Strings '04 was organised in Paris at the Collège de France from June 28 until July 3rd 2004. More than four hundred participants originating from more than sixty different countries attended it. Its ambitious aim was twofold: gather most of the world experts to review in depth the most current progress in the field of string theory while at the same time enabling the participation of a large number of young researchers in the field. There was also a very active effort to reach the general public and introduce it to this important field of research in fundamental physics. A strong emphasis was set on covering all the major implications of string theory in related fields like cosmology, particle phenomenology and mathematical physics.

On all these counts, Strings '04 was a resounding success. 48 speakers from 18 countries reviewed all the important developments of the past year in depth. The early decision to invite most of the speakers at a very late date (some were invited no sooner than 2 weeks prior to the beginning of the conference and all invited speakers accepted to come) enabled the organisers to create an exciting program including all the interesting progress of the year. Most of the talks have been written up by the speakers and published in two special issues of the Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences.

With regard to the inclusion and training of young researcher in the field the following actions were undertaken. First and foremost, a vigorous effort was made to have a large number of junior scientists participate to the conference, which is certainly not the norm at these high level international meetings. This was of course made possible by the EU LCF grant and we believe that it fully vindicate the idea of having included the possibility of supporting large conferences in the 6th FCP. This resulted in nearly half the participants being supported by the EU LCF grant. Some speakers were graduate students or very junior scientists.

To maximise the benefit that junior researchers could draw from the conference, a small workshop was organised prior to the conference at the Institut des hautes études scientifiques (IHES) in Bures-s/-Yvette at the outskirts of Paris where young participants were strongly encouraged to participate. It is also worth mentioning that a summer school had been planned (Cargèse Summer School, String Theory: From Gauge Interactions To Cosmology) to end just before Strings '04. This enabled young scientists coming from abroad to participate to both events with the benefit of basic and advanced courses in string theory prior to attending the conference. Finally there was a satellite workshop on cosmology (21-26 June 2004, String and Brane Cosmology Workshop at the Collège de France) whose speakers were mostly drawn from the speakers invited to speak at Strings '04 but with less of an emphasis on training. While not part of the conference proper these events were in the view of the organisers an integral part of the proposal and as such had been incorporated in the proposal for the conference. The presence in Europe of the best experts in the world in string theory also prompted scientists from other member states to organise pre or post conference workshop on related topics, (5-11 July 2004, Les Houches School: Applications of Random Matrices in Physics; 14-27 June 2004, Oporto: Modern Trends in String Theory; 1-29 June 2004, CERN: post-conference Workshop; 5-7 July 2004, Durham: post-Strings 2004 Workshop). These activities certainly enhanced to impact that the conference had on training and research in the member states.

Two programs targeted to the general public and initiated by the organisers of Strings '04 were setup and organised in cooperation with other French scientists. One was a special Saturday session of the conference. Held at the Sorbonne (just adjacent to the conference main venue), it attracted an audience of several hundred that received a brochure containing the transcripts of the conferences. The speakers were either speakers or participants to the conference. The program covered a large spectrum of the main themes of string theory. The other program was organised with Université de tous les savoirs. It took place the week preceding the conference and was a joint effort undertaken in cooperation of the organisers of Neutrino 2004, a conference devoted to the important field of neutrinos in elementary particle physics. It consisted in a weeklong series of conferences (one a day) on all aspects of elementary particle physics, from its experimental aspects to the latest theoretical developments, including of course but not restricted to string theory. It attracted around a thousand participants a day and the video cast is archived.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that a special partnership was established with Apple, a rare partnership with industry in the field of theoretical physics, which provided computer and network hardware and support.