String Theory, or the Theory of Everything

Scientists have long been searching for a “theory of everything” that can explain the strange things that happen in the universe including go math grade 1. String theory is one of the most successful such attempts.

We understand that you want to get a formulation right away and go further. This is what most readers who type “string theory simpler” into a search engine come up with. But, unfortunately, this is a rather complicated concept of theoretical physicists and mathematicians, which they themselves do not fully understand. You can’t get away with one sentence. Except to explain that the diverse elementary particles that make up our world are not actually dots or balls, but thin strings oscillating at different frequencies. But that’s too simplistic, so we’ll tell it the way the Science Channel is supposed to tell it. Get your head ready for the purpose of studying second grade go math!

A story of insight
In the 1960s, young Italian Gabriele Veneziano, working as a theoretical physicist at CERN in Geneva, was looking for a way to explain the strong nuclear interaction of androns (then much less known about androns, because the Large Hadron Collider had not yet been invented). At some point, a revelation occurred: the scientist suddenly realized that the so-called beta function – a mathematical formula invented back in 1730 by Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematician who had lived half his life in Russia – was suitable for explaining the observed processes. It was soon discovered that this formula could describe the vast amount of data accumulated in the study of features of strong interactions. “Bingo!” – thought Veneziano, and shared his discovery and go math 3 grade with the world of scientists.

This was only the first piece of the puzzle that others had yet to put together. Physicists Jojiro Nambu, Holger Nielsen, and Leonard Susskind pondered: why did the ancient formula fit so easily and what physical meaning lurks in this complex mathematics? By 1970, it had become clear to them that the strong interaction of elementary particles is perfectly described by Euler’s beta function, if you represent them as tiny oscillating one-dimensional strings. These strings, invisible to the human eye, were imagined by scientists as closed – in the form of rings – and as open. It was decided that the length of the strings was so small that it was a stretch to consider them as points, which meant that nothing had changed for fundamental physics.

This is how the concept of “quantum string” emerged – it refers to infinitely thin one-dimensional objects 10-35 m long, the vibrations of which reproduce the entire variety of elementary particles. It was a real revolution in the world of physics, because all previously discovered “ingredients of the Universe” (electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.) were now proposed to be reduced to a single matter: strings, whose behavior is easily described by the formula E = mc2, where E is energy, m is mass, c is speed of light in vacuum.

Strings of more massive particles make more intense vibrations, and strings of lighter particles vibrate less intensely. Ultimately, oscillations at a certain frequency determine the properties of strings: mass and electric charge, which allows us to refer them to a certain kind of fundamental particles, be it quark, photon, gluon, etc.

From five theories to one
String theory proved to be a hard nut to crack even for the most highbrow scientists. As one of its founders, Italian physicist Daniel Amati, said: “This is part of the physics of the XXI century, which happened to be in the XX century. “And to solve this problem you need the mathematics of the XXII century,” scientists joke these days.

In the 1970s and 1980s, string theory was very popular. Different scientists took up it, and several varieties were born as a result. Some authors came up with a hypothetical particle, a tachyon, that supposedly moves faster than the speed of light in the vacuum. Others invented supersymmetry, suggesting that all known elementary particles have superpartners, that fermions and bosons are related in nature. Others tried to hypothetically calculate how many dimensions the Universe can have and how they can be collapsed. The fact is that the string theory itself requires that the Universe, besides the three usual spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension, has at least six more. That is why in many variants there were ten dimensions, and then it was necessary to introduce one more in order to unite all five string theories into one M-theory, where the capital M means “mystic, maternal, membrane, matrix”. This generalization was made by the American theoretical physicist Edward Witten. He, by the way, is still alive and well, as is Gabriele Veneziano, who began putting together this scientific puzzle.

“String theory is unlike anything else ever discovered. It is an incredible variety of ideas about mathematics and physics,” Edward Witten writes enthusiastically about his brainchild. – String theory has the remarkable property that it predicts gravity.

Gravity, which Newton figured out, did not fit into the standard model of physics. Breaking the world down to microparticles, scientists had to pretend that there was no gravitational force between stars, galaxies, planets, and the Sun. String theory became popular in an instant, because it acted as a unifying bridge between quantum mechanics and general relativity, which had contradictions and could not get along with each other. Explaining everything at once was a long-held dream of Einstein and many other scientists, who realized that existing theories did not solve all the mysteries of the macro- and microcosm. Some even thought that all the laws of physics could be explained by a single equation – all that was left to do was to guess what that formula was. Joel Sherk and John Schwartz almost came close. They later grudgingly said that string theory initially failed because physicists underestimated its scope.

The games of our minds
What is the benefit of this knowledge, you ask? Well, for one thing, it pushes the boundaries of the imagination. People have thought about the fact that the world may not be at all what it seems: perhaps the universe is supersymmetric and has 11 dimensions. It is possible that there are particles that have not yet been discovered and we have no idea about them.

String theory is just theoretical physics, pushing back on mathematical calculations and born out of the curiosity of scientists who like to ask the question “What if…?” It has yet to be empirically verified, which would require building a huge gas pedal the size of a galaxy. Several unfortunate inconsistencies and contradictions keep its proponents from sleeping at night and exclaiming to the public, “Hosanna! We’ve finally explained everything!” If the string concept had worked, theoretical physicists would have had every right to leave their dusty offices and leave the profession for lack of use.