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String theory is not simply a theory that has emerged within the last decade. This theory has quite an extensive history that has shown periods of promise and dismal times, as well. Because string theory has been developed along with many of the other prominent ideas of the last century, including the Standard Model and quantum mechanics, it has been obscured to the general public for the most part. Now let’s delve into a fascinating look into the birth of string theory.
Kaluza - Klein Theory
Kaluza, while studying Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, pondered about the consequences of adding a fifth dimension to the accepted four dimensions. The seeds for string theory in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond were planted in 1919 by Theodor Kaluza, who was working at the University of Konigsberg. Kaluza, while studying Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, pondered about the consequences of adding a fifth dimension to the accepted four dimensions (three spatial dimensions and one time dimension). When Kaluza included the extra dimension, he discovered that this situation allowed for the unification of gravity and electromagnetism. This was a very significant breakthrough at such an early period; however, when Kaluza submitted his findings to Einstein in 1919, Einstein eventually began to ignore Kaluza’s theory. Although Einstein said, “at first glance I like your theory enormously,” the simple fact that there was no need or reason for this fifth dimension ultimately led to its unimportance for many years. Later, in 1926, Swedish mathematician Oskar Klein confirmed Kaluza’s work by formulating a quantum theory with Kaluza’s findings. Klein realized that the universe has both “extended” and “curled-up” dimensions. That is, while we can easily seem and detect the extended dimensions, some dimensions are curled-up into such a tiny structure that it is not detectable. Today, Kaluza-Klein theories are defined as those that involve more than four dimensions. Kaluza and
Klein’s work was generally disregarded for a long period of time because new forces were being discovered. This meant that the Kaluza-Klein Theory had to be amended for each of these new forces by adding another dimension. Finally, physicists have determined that eleven dimensions are needed to incorporate all of the forces within the Kaluza-Klein Theory. Interestingly, Mtheory, which is the most modern and comprehensive version of string theory, demands exactly eleven dimensions. Although the Kaluza-Klein Theory did not prove to actually unite General Relativty and electromagnetism, this theory is still applicable to today’s latest research.
String theory was introduced during the 1960s as a means of working with the strong nuclear force and hadrons, which are particles that are affected by the strong nuclear forces such as neutrons and protons. Despite the initial excitement and work done for about five years hereafter, the field of quantum chromodynamics appeared to deal with this situation better. Then, in 1971, string theory incorporated supersymmetry, and this merger resulted in the creation of superstrings that can exist in ten dimensions. After that, the entire focus of string theory shifted when physicists moved away from the strong force and hadrons and focused instead on quantum gravity. At this point, the modern-day promise of string theory arose because string theory could now be developed to incorporate quantum mechanics and the previously bothersome force of gravity and the corresponding particle – the graviton.
By the end of 1985, there was not one, but rather, five separate string theories that each involved ten dimensions. Interestingly, each of the five theories seemed to be accurate. The “first revolution” in string theory occurred in 1984 when the theory was proclaimed to be free from anomalies. The work of Green and Schwarz allowed for this significant declaration. However, by the end of 1985, there was not one, but rather, five separate string theories that each involved ten dimensions. Interestingly, each of the five theories seemed to be accurate. This posed as a significant concern until 1994.
In 1994, the “second revolution” in string theory was born with the work of Seiberg and Professor Edward Witten. They said that these multiple theories, which also included an additional eleven dimensional theory, were simply different versions of the same theory.Known as “M-theory,” this all-in-one theory accounts for the other theories with duality transformations, which somehow connect the different theories together. These two revolutions have brought us to modern day and the excitement of string theory.
TYPES OF STRINGS
As there are several versions of string theory, there are also different types of strings. These structures, which are incredibly small, are thought to be the most fundamental structures of matter. Physicists believe that strings of atoms and quarks were thought to be the smallest structures and discovered to not actually the most fundamental structures, then can’t there be a structure smaller than a string? Can there always be a smaller structure then the one we know? To find out, we must first understand the types of strings.
Open strings are simply one-dimensional structures that have two endpoints. Thus, an open string can be thought of as a line that has the capability of moving flexibly. These open strings can create an array of vibrational patterns.
Closed strings are one-dimensional structures that lack endpoints; therefore, equating them with flexible circles. These closed strings are typically the traditional representation of strings.
Heterotic strings are a combination between bosonic strings and superstrings. Bosonic strings occupy twenty-six dimensions, while superstrings occupy ten dimensions. So, counterclockwise vibrational patterns of heterotic strings deal with twenty-six dimensions, while clockwise vibrational patterns deal with ten dimensions. This interesting fact ultimately means that sixteen dimensions have to be condensed into circular lattices or circle-like packages.
TYPES OF STRING THEORIES
“String theory” is a general term that has been manipulated through time and, in fact, represents numerous theories. The string theory introduced in the 1960s is certainly not as involved by the term today. Additions, such as supersymmetry and the research of noted physicists, have shaped string theory from its early beginnings.
Bosonic String Theory
The late 1960s witnessed the birth of string theory through the work of Gabriele Veneziano, a research fellow at CERN (European Organization of Particle Physics Research). This original version of string theory is now known as “bosonic string theory” and involved twenty-six spacetime dimensions. The naming of this theory is due to its use of only bosonic particles. This meant that the theory was lacking fermions and could not be a grand unification theory. More troubling than this, though, was the prediction of a “tachyon,” which was a particle whose mass was actually negative. This implication deemed the entire theory illogical.
Superstring theory or supersymmetric string theory added to the previous version of string theory by incorporating supersymmetry and realizing that bosonic patterns and fermionic patterns came in pairs. That is, there was “symmetry” between the bosonic and fermionic
patterns. Superstring theory caught on in 1980s; however, there was one significant problem. Superstring theory can actually be represented by five different theories. How could the one so-called theory of everything come in five different theories? The five theories - Type I theory, Type IIA theory, Type IIB theory, Heterotic type O(32), and Heterotic type E8 X E8 theory – are quite similar, though they differ in the minor intricacies of the theories. Each of these theories has ten dimensions (nine space dimensions and one time dimension)!
Type I Type I string theory includes both open and closed strings. Additionally, the type I theory states that both orientations are equal. This theory resembles type IIB theory except for the lack of open loops in the type IIB theory. Type IIA In this theory, the clockwise and counterclockwise vibrations of the strings are opposite. Here, opposite refers to an idea requiring complex mathematics. Another way of describing this idea is stating that particles involved with this theory spin in different directions. Type IIB The opposite in nature of the type IIA theory, the type IIB string theory has clockwise and counterclockwise vibrations that are the same. Similarly, the spin of the particles is identical in this theory.
Heterotic string theory is very interesting because it combines bosonic strings, which need twenty-six dimensions, and supersymmetry, which involves ten dimensions. This combination results due to the vibrational patterns. Counterclockwise vibrational patters occupy twenty-six dimensions, while clockwise vibrational patterns occupy ten dimensions. This means that the additional sixteen dimensions are somehow condensed into a circular shape. Because there are
two shapes that this circular structure can take, heterotic type O(32) [HO] and heterotic type E8 X E8 [HE] theory emerged to account for these two possibilities.
The “M” in “M-theory” is not known to stand for anything certainly, though many venture guesses. M-Theory was developed as a result of the “second superstring revolution” in 1995. First introduced by Professor Edward Witten in a stunning lecture at the University of Southern California, M-theory unites the five different superstring theories and supergravity into one single theory. M-theory demands eleven dimensions (ten space dimensions and one time dimension) , and this added dimension that was previously overlooked allows for the combination of all of the five theories. In addition, M-theory involves a completely new host of concepts that captivate the mind. Features, such as vibrating two-dimensional membranes, “three-branes” (three-dimensional structures), and a myriad of other complex ideas, have surfaced after Professor Witten’s use of dualities with string theory. Dualities, which are theoretical models that can show the similarity between seemingly dissimilar concepts in physics, were used by Professor Witten to show the same underlying theory. M-theory is still relatively underdeveloped and requires more research. Part of the intrigue of M-theory comes from the name itself. The “M” in “M-theory” is not known to stand for anything certainly, though many venture guesses (“mystery,” “membrane,” etc…).
DIMENSIONS AND STRINGS
These new theories that have been presented involve more than the typical four dimensions. Ten and even eleven dimensions have emerged. So, what are these extra dimensions and in what form do they exist?
Current Four Dimensions
Sensory experiences give us information about a 3-dimensional world that includes width, height, and length (or depth). We all can comprehend these three dimensions simply by moving in our 3-d world. Einstein claimed that there was also a fourth dimension: time. Much like we can move in a 3-dimensional world, we also move through time (forwards and backwards). These four dimensions present a world with three space dimensions and one time dimension.
The notion of any extra dimension to the four known dimensions was conceived by the Polish mathematician Theodor Kaluza in 1919. Kaluza thought that extra spatial dimensions would allow for the integration between general relativity and James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. Supported by Swedish mathematician Oskar Klein in the 1920s, these extra dimensions were actually minute, curled-up dimensions that could not be detected due to their extremely small size. These two mathematicians said that within the common three extended dimensions (that we are familiar with) are additional dimensions in tightly curled structures. One possible structure that could envelop six extra dimensions is the Calabi-Yau shape, which was created by Eugenio Calabi and Shing-Tung Yau.
A calabi-yau structure that theoretically contains six dimensions This structure is much like a tightly wound ball that surrounds six dimensions. This sixdimensional structure with the three spatial dimensions and the one time dimension results in the ten-dimensional world. Modern string theory requires these extra dimensions for mathematical purposes. Each of the five superstring theories requires a total of ten dimensions- nine spatial dimensions and one time dimension.
One More Dimension
Are there infinite dimensions simply curled up into smaller and smaller structures? M-theory, which attempts to unify the five theories, requires one more spatial dimension than the five individual string theories. This new dimension was actually overlooked in past work because the calculations done were only estimations; this mathematical error blinded physicists from seeing this extra dimension. As new dimensions have been found, it begs the question as to whether there are only eleven dimensions? Are there infinite dimensions simply curled up into smaller and smaller structures?
The word “brane“ is derived from “membrane“, a 2-dimensional surface on which objects can move. Branes are essentially the same because the either one or both of the endings of an open string are moving on them. The image below shows the configuration called a DirichletBoundary-Condition.
Two strings bound on a D 2-Brane. But in contrast to a traditional membrane, branes can have between negative one and ten dimensions. To distinguish between the number of dimensions involved, branes are written as ‘Dp-brane,’ where p is an integer that represents the number of dimensions. Some of these dimensions even have special qualities. Maybe you were wondering about a brane that contains a negative one dimension. This is a brane that is fixed in both time and space and is called a “d -instanton.: If p equals zero, then all spatial coordinates are fixed; thus, this structure is called a “D-particle.” A D1-brane is then consequently called a “d-string.” A D9-brane is not spatially fixed (neither in time nor in space) because it fills the spatial dimensions completely. For this reason, a string bound to a D9-brane can move around freely in space. This condition is called a Neumann boundary condition.
If these one-dimensional strings really comprise the entire structure of the universe, they must certainly be able to move and interact in a variety of formats. Although there are many complicated arrangements of and between strings, only the most fundamental movements are shown due to the vast and theoretically never-ending number of possibilities.
Basic String Interaction
A string can sporadically separate into two separate strings. Because strings are assumed to be the most fundamental structures known, their vibrations and oscillations determine what type of particle they comprise. For example, a certain type of vibration indicates that the string is part of a photon, electron, etc… Since strings theoretically exists everywhere, they are bound to collide into each other at some point. This collision can often result in the combination of two separate strings into one string. Conversely, a string can sporadically separate into two separate strings. Conceptually, the notion of strings moving
through space and interacting with other strings illustrates the string as a sheet or a tube based on the type of string involved. With open strings, which may be depicted as simple lines, the image produced as the string travels through space is a sheet. With closed strings, which appear as circular or elliptical objects, the image that results when the string travels through space is a tube. Thus, many illustrations of string interactions show strings as sheets or tubes, rather than simply thread-like strings.
Because researchers are continually pushing forward the boundary of our understanding, this section allows to investigate the most recent experiments being done and new information being collected. These events pertain new findings on string theory or any of the current interpretations within the scientific community.
Signs Pointing to String Theory in Big Bang Aftermath
Although the chances of detecting strings is minimal, the simple hope of verifying string theory experimentally is truly exciting. Studies on the Big Bang, which was the colossal explosion approximately 13.7 billion years ago that created the universe, indicate that data collected on the aftermath of the Big Bang may provide a way to test string theory. String theory has been thought to not be testable (due to the minute scale on which it is based) and has raised concern amid the scientific community,
which has questioned whether string theory is a scientific theory or simply a philosophy. Richard Easter, the assistant professor of physics at Yale University, states that “Big Bang, the most powerful event in the history of the Universe, we see the energies needed to reveal the subtle signs of string theory.” The Big Bang afterglow still envelops the entire universe and holds clues to the first moments of time. Physicists plan to detect strings by enlarging and observing pictures that illustrate this Big Bang afterglow and determining whether any disturbances or alterations in the afterglow are due to string theory. Although the chances of detecting strings is minimal, the simple hope of verifying string theory experimentally is truly exciting.
Quarks have never been found alone due to the immense strength of the strong force... The Penta- what? Yes, the pentaquark, or 5-quark formation, has been discovered.. Quarks, which were formerly only known to come in two and three quark combinations, are the fundamental components of elementary particles. In fact, quarks have never been found alone due to the immense strength of the strong force that is actually magnified so greatly that quarks combine with other quarks upon the moment that they are even moved slightly. After thirty years of speculation and the first signs coming in 2002, Takashi Nakano of Osaka University with support from Jefferson Lab in Virginia announced the discovery of this novel structure. This new discovery greatly widens our field of perception and clearly opens door to future breakthroughs and investigations.
Quantum physics states that information can never be eliminated. Using mathematics and string theory, physicists at Ohio State University have proposed that black holes aren’t simply elegant juggernauts, but instead are fuzzballs. This new view of black holes comes from the belief that black holes contain a myriad of strings that contribute to the fuzzy structure. Black holes have long been a source of awe and amazement due to their supposed capabilities. British physicist Stephen Hawking’s work with black holes created the socalled "information paradox." This paradox exists because Hawking said that all information was completely lost once a black hole evaporates (after continually emitting the eponymous "Hawking radiation"); however, quantum physics states that information can never be eliminated, as in Hawking’s case. Surprisingly, after thirty years, Hawking has recanted his previous findings and now believes that black holes do permit information to leave. Mr. Samir Mathur and his colleagues at Ohio State University say that a black hole is comprised of a massive grouping of strings that stretch to provide the size and power of a black hole. Also, these physicists have noted that black holes can now be traced back to their origins, thus illustrating that information can exist.
A Way of Testing the String Theory
Although string theory is quite difficult to prove as result of the miniscule size of the strings themselves, researchers are now trying to determine the existence of strings by examining the gravitational imprints that have resulted from the birth of the universe and current gravitational waves. These physicists are relying on the data collected by their three-step experiment with stages entitled LIGO I, LIGO II, and the satellite LISA. Despite the fact that gravitational waves have never been collected or detected before, physicists are hoping that this extensive experiment will pick up gravitational waves. They believe that cosmic strings “crack” and then release gravitational waves, which can potentially be detected by LIGO. There are many other facets to this detailed experiment, and physicists are hoping to find clues that will help convince the scientific community and the public about the validity of string theory.
FLAWS IN THE THEORY
While string theory certainly shows legitimate promise in its viability and being the ultimate unification theory, there are, as always, roadblocks challenge the movement for categorical support of string theory. Despite the numerous criticisms of string theory, the real problems lie inherently in the heart of string theory itself. Is string theory simply a philosophy or is it a scientific theory?
Physics or Philosophy
Opponents claim that string theory is just a philosophy or theoretical belief that lacks justifiable proof through experimentation. The primarily problem associated with string theory is that it cannot be experimentally tested due to the minute scale at which strings interact and are visible (approximately 10 ^(–35) meters or Planck length). Although scientists have tried to indirectly test for strings by examining any variations in gravitational waves (these have not been detected previously) or the Big Bang’s afterglow, they have never successfully viewed or determined the existence of strings. This fact becomes even graver when scientists say that strings will never be visible. Expectedly, this monumental problem with string theory has raised questions: the foremost being whether string theory can even be considered a scientific theory. Opponents claim that string theory is just a philosophy or theoretical belief that lacks justifiable proof through experimentation. As mentioned earlier, the good news for believers of string theory is that recent experiments and studies aim to detect strings indirectly and thus prove the accuracy of string theory.
Nobody, not even its creator Professor Edward Witten really knows about what is going on in these eleven dimensions. M-theory, which attempts to unify the five separate supersymmetry theories by using dualities, serves as a source of intrigue and skepticism. M-theory requires eleven dimensions (ten space dimensions and one time dimension) and incorporates numerous novel structures, such as twodimensional membranes. Unfortunately, nobody is certain about the exact features of this eleven-dimensional space. Nobody, not even its creator Professor Edward Witten really knows about what is going on in these eleven dimensions. Are there only strings, only membranes, a combination of both, or even more structures involved? This nebulous understanding, say many physicists, is a result of the mathematical incapability to express this whole new world. Some physicists claim that newly developed mathematics in the future will provide the answers. Only time will tell.
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