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String Theory Essay

String Theory Essay

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Published by Michael Mohamed

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Published by: Michael Mohamed on May 29, 2009
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String Theory - Essay
SPH4U0-C ISU Project
By Michael Mohamed
1. Introduction: A New Kind of Physical Theory
 Throughout the history of science various paradigm shifts have taken placewhich have radically altered both the scientific tools with which mankind has toobserve and predict the world it lives in. The theory of gravity was changed radicallyfrom the former Newtonian model in the early 1900s by the work of Albert Einsteinin his theory of general relativity. At this time there were huge breakthroughs in thefield of quantum mechanics by scientists such as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg,Erwin Schrödinger and Richard Feynman among countless others. What was onceconsidered the standard model was found inadequate over time and scientistsstruggled to rethink their current understanding of the universe in the search for atheory that might unite all physical phenomena together. In modern times, this goalhas still gone unmet. However, theoretical scientific research has lead to thedevelopment of a new theory that could overtake the current standard model; thisessay will attempt to describe this new candidate referred to as String Theory. Thebasic concepts of String Theory will be described first of all through the currentinadequacy of modern physical theories, following with the concept of strings,multiple dimensions and supersymmetry, and concluding with the description of M-theory and its critical applications in physics problems, some of which still remainunsolved today.
2. The Quantum Relativistic Mess
 The current standard model of physics has a fundamental flaw: it is actually twoseparate theories, the theory of General Relativity and the theory of QuantumMechanics. Both theories provide accurate and sensible predictions when applied totheir respective extremities; General Relativity works best when predicting thephenomena associated with gargantuan celestial bodies, whereas QuantumMechanics works best when predicting the phenomena associated with extremelysmall bodies such as protons, electrons, quarks and photons. While both theoriesare accurate when used correctly, any attempt to use both theories simultaneous inattempting to understand certain phenomena cause the theories to break down. This might result in physically impossible measurements such as zeros that shouldnot occur as well as infinities that should not appear. The theory of General Relativity utilizes the concept of a smooth and curvedthree dimensional surface on which all bodies of mass rest; gravity in thenunderstood to come as a result of large masses bending space-time and causingsmaller masses to fall toward or around them. One of the most important featuresof the relativity is the perfect smoothness of which the space-time continuum is
 
described as having which, as later shown, becomes the undoing of the theory itself. The theory of Quantum Mechanics states that for small particles such as electronsand photons, no deterministic predications can be made about any property of theparticles action; the best approximation then is to utilize various probabilities whichcan be predicted given information about various states of the particles. This is dueto the nature of such small particles which are turbulent and extremely varied intheir action; as one attempts to zoom closer in to observe the actions of smallparticles, the more distorted and turbulent their movement begins to seem. Usingthe constants
G
,
c
, and a constant was found for the smallest observable lengthin which phenomena could be observed until the quantum fluctuations becamecompletely unpredictable; the Planck Length.A problem then arises in attempting to unify the two theories: because thespace-time continuum is predicted to be infinitely smooth, it should be theoreticallypossible to continuous zoom into it while observing the continuum becomingsmoother; however due to Quantum Mechanics, zooming in closer should eventuallycause the distortion of quantum fluctuations to make itself more and more apparentover time. These disturbances to the space-time continuum become most apparentat Planck length, and render it impossible to probe further without causing onetheory to have to ignore the other. This doesn’t make sense in certain contexts suchas a black hole and during the big bang where extremely heavy and small particlesare involved, demanding the use of both theories. This fundamental problem maybe solved within the framework of String Theory where both Quantum Mechanicsand General Relativity may be united.
3. Strings, Supersymmetry and Multiple Dimensions
String theory diverges entirely from former ideas in physics in that instead of working with point-like particles in four perceivable dimensions, it works withversatile strings comprised of energy in several unperceivable dimensions. Stringscan comprise all of the particles, both force and mass based, in the known universewhile still producing evidence of newer particles. The particles become similar tonotes in a musical instrument, distinct due to their frequency and energy; stringsvibrating at varying frequencies and amplitudes produce all of the building blocks of particles and matter that we understand today while introducing many of its own.Strings can be closed or open and are typically as long as Planck length.String theory also introduces the concept of supersymmetry. Supersymmetry isthe concept that every force particle has a matter
superpartner 
that has ½ of thespin of the original particle; this can help to unify particles together and to showthat quantum physics can be modelled without the augmentation from numericaladjustments. Supersymmetry has also lead to the emergence of 
gravitons
, masslessparticles of spin 2 which carry the gravitational force. This is useful as it can help tounify the four fundamental forces together; while the 3 quantum mechanical forces
 
could be unified under electroweak theory, gravity had been excluded. Atincreasingly shorter distances, the strength of the forces begin to converge into asingle value; previous theoretical and experimental work showed that the forcesnearly equal each other in strength at some distance, however the inclusion of supersymmetry into the model allows quantum fluctuations to be cancelled and theforces to eventually become equal. One detriment of supersymmetry is the doublingof all the particles that should be predicted due to the lack of any superpartner’sbeing discovered. The concept of duality in string theory is essentially that a two different modelsapplied to the same problem can create the same result and that two phenomenawith different observations can both be true at the same time; this has been used toprove that Planck Length being the minimum observable distance. Because stringsare comprised of energy, the more energy they have the longer they can be, andvia E = mc
2
they will also be heavier. The energy of a string can be related to its
winding number 
, the amount of times it can wrap around an object; energy isproportional to radius times the winding number. Similarly, energy is proportional tothe
vibrational number 
, a number describing the uniform motion of the string,multiplied by the inverse of the radius. The total energy of the string is the sum of these products. A pattern appears in string theory such that even if the radius isinverted, the total energy remains the same. Because the two views of the radiusare equally valid, two different distances can always be observed: the two distancesare caused by either heavy-string modesor light-string modes (as mass relates toenergy). This provides two views of the universe, one where it is much smaller thanPlanck length itself, and another where it is the size we observe; the distanceobserved always correlates to light-string modes. When Planck Length distances areto be probed (such as in observation of a black hole), the breakdown of quantummechanics and general relativity instead becomes a shift whereby closer zooming(smaller distances) into a space becomes expanded (larger distances) due to theduality that arises from the energy equality of heavy and light-string modes.String theory incorporates a view of ten dimensions, the observable 3 spatialdimensions, the single time dimension, and six more spatial dimensions. Thesedimensions take the form of a
Calabi-Yau manifold 
, a curled up six dimensionalshape. Similarly to how a piece of paper may not appear to have width whenobserved from far away, the six dimensional Calabi-Yau manifolds areessentiallyunnoticeable. A string has only one dimension, as the dimensions of the universeincrease so do the dimensions which the string can vibrate through. One problemof quantum mechanics is the negative probabilities that arise in certain calculations.Using calculations incorporating multiple dimensions, these negative probabilitiestend to vanish, vanishing completely with 9 spatial dimensions. The dimensions of the universe tightly constrain the possible vibrations of strings; therefore theamount of dimensions can be related to the various properties of the particles thatwe can observe. Why there are 9 spatial dimensions cannot be fully explainedoutside of mathematical expression. However, the various properties arising from

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