Theoretical Physics: The Man Who Does Tricks with Strings

Juan Maldacena with a set of mathematical equations is like a magician with a wand. He can take rows of arcane symbols that describe the gravitational weirdness of a black hole and, with a flourish, pull from them equations that look suspiciously like those that govern the will-o'-the-wisp interactions of subatomic particles. What's more, the associate professor of physics at Harvard University can perform the same trick in reverse, effectively concealing the rabbit back inside the hat.

In this playful way, the 31-year-old native of Buenos Aires has been able to suggest a way to knit together two theories previously thought...

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