Wednesday, October 27, 2010

String Theory:

String theory is actually a high order theory where other models, such as supergravity and quantum gravity, appear as approximations. The basic premise to string theory is that subatomic entities, such as quarks and forces, are actually tiny loops, strings and membranes that behave as particles at high energies.

One of the problems in particle physics is the bewildering number of elementary particles (muons and pions and mesons etc). String theory answers this problem by proposing that small loops, about 100 billion billion times smaller than the proton, are vibrating below the subatomic level and each mode of vibration represents a distinct resonance which corresponds to a particular particle. Thus, if we could magnify a quantum particle we would see a tiny vibrating string or loop.

The fantastic aspect to string theory, that makes it such an attractive candidate for a TOE, is that it not only explains the nature of quantum particles but it also explains spacetime as well. Strings can break into smaller strings or combine to form larger strings. This complicated set of motions must obey self-consistent rules and the the constraint caused by these rules results in the same relations described by relativity theory.

Another aspect of string theory that differs from other TOE candidates is its high aesthetic beauty. For string theory is a geometric theory, one that, like general relativity, describes objects and interactions through the use of geometry and does not suffer from infinities or what is called normalization problems such as quantum mechanics. It may be impossible to test the predictions of string theory since it would require temperature and energies similar to those at the beginning of the Universe. Thus, we resort to judging the merit of this theory on its elegance and internal consistence rather than experiment data.

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