Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Vibrating strings of matter

String theory, the theory of strings, M-theory (god knows what the M stands for). These are all names of a scientific principle that has yet to be proven, see the oxymoron here? String theory explains that matter is actually vibrating strands of energy and are classified as either open or closed. Based on their vibrations, they give rise to properties of matter like the charge of an electron. Sounds just about insane and after twenty years of intense research by some of the finest minds in theoretical physics, I would have to agree.

What is wrong with String theory and why has it not been proven yet? Well proving string theory may be a bit hard because of the fact that strings are a billion times smaller than the smallest thing a physicist can think of and that is SMALL! Secondly, the equations of string theory contains an infinite amount of solutions??!! WHAT??! NO WAY! does! The hard part is figuring out which one suits our universe the best, might take a while to figure that one out. The mathematics of string theory is also pretty challenging, in fact it is so challenging that they probably need a whole new branch of mathematics for it!

As a college physics student, I always thought that something was fishy about strings. Firstly, it does not predict anything, all it does is try to combine quantum mechanics and relativity. Is that so hard? Well look at it this way. Quantum mechanics explains the behaviour of the very small while relativity explains the behaviour of the very large. Quantum mechanics is filled with uncertainty and relativity relies on exact predictability. Its like oil and water, well not quite because it isnt impossible....well at least we all hope so! String theory is a bit like me during study revision taking a peek at the answer and then trying to build towards it, not caring whether or not the method is acceptable as long as I get the answer. And the scary thing is no one wants to give up just yet, the very nature of string theory requires drastic revisions to our current thinking about the cosmos like eleven dimesions, gravitons, Calabi Yau manifolds etc etc. Yea, it is a strange theory, well if it does fail, what a waste. Twenty years and some of the finest minds wasted on some wild goose chase that kept on going in desperation.

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