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String Theory- The Theory of Everything?

Updated on June 21, 2013
Could the whole universe an everything be composed extremely tiny strands of energy?
Could the whole universe an everything be composed extremely tiny strands of energy? | Source

String Theory?

String Theory is essentially is a theory that all particles in the universe are composed of ultra tiny vibrating strands of "energy" called strings. These are both closed like rubber bands and open like vibrating curly hairs. This theory promises to bring all of the phenomina of the universe into one unified theory which is not the current state, but which was the dream of Albert Einstein to his dying day.

String theory has come in and out of fashion in the scientific community for decades. It is almost as old as I am and the source of a great number of Science Fiction ideas that have become quite familiar to the general public even if their source remains a mystery. The concept of parallel universes is just one of those stemming from the idea that there are more dimensions than meet the eye which has often made string theory unpalatable to main stream physicists.

Many physicists feel that it is more a philosophical study than a branch of science because its complex mathematical concepts can not be tested in the laboratory. So if string theory is so controversial and is so difficult to prove or disprove, the question is why wasn’t it thrown out decades ago?

What is Behind String Theory?

To understand the significance of string theory it is necessary to go back in history to see how the theories of physical sciences have developed throughout the years.

If we go back to the days before Newton many of the phenomena observable in our daily lives were mysteries considered beyond man’s ken and were just accepted.  Newton and his contemporaries changed all that and started studying and applying mathematical concepts to forces such as gravity, and even when the actual forces could not be comprehended they could be explained, and they could be predicted and used to advance our understanding of the world around us. We gained understanding of the movements of the planets and other heavenly bodies and to this day space exploration is based on nothing more than the principles that began with Newton.

In the 1800s Faraday and Maxwell discovered and codified electromagnetic energy which brought understanding to electricity and magnetism which had previously been considered to be dis-related forces making possible things we take for granted today such as the electric motor. This was a truly significant break through not just for the advance of our understanding of the forces in our environment but for the influence it would have on future thinkers such as Einstein.

The next great advance was made when Einstein unified mass and energy with his famous E=mc^2. Prior to this mass and energy were considered to be two completely dis-related concepts and this idea made possible atomic energy and the atomic bomb. Now while it is debatable whether the atomic bomb was an advance, it did show the tremendous energy that was produced by converting a few pounds of mass into energy.  Along with he theory of gravity and its relation to the “fabric of space and time”, Einstein advanced and unified the forces and energies of Physics for a short time.

Unfortunately, In studying the atom, it was found that the world of the atom and sub-atomic particles was governed by a completely different set of rules, bringing us quantum and particle physics. The forces and mathematics of this tiny world seemed to be completely different to the forces and rules of the observable world.  In this world we had “the strong force” which kept the positively charged particles in the nucleus of the atom from repelling each other. “The weak force” was another force which was responsible for radioactive decay of the nucleus. These forces along with electromagnetic force were significantly stronger than gravity. In fact gravity was so much weaker that there seemed to be no comparison and the forces of the “small” and the “large’ appeared to have no relation what so ever and so required two completely sets of rules when studying them.

And So Enters String Theory

In the late 1960’s Gabriele Veneziano inadvertently formed the foundations of string theory when he noticed that a formula published by Euler known as the beta function seemed to relate to the strong force of the nucleus of the atom. He did not know at the time that it would lead to a new unifying theory of physics but like all men of Science he had found a “string” of data and had to keep on pulling on it to see where it would lead.

A young physicist, Lenard Susskind, was one of at least 3 theoretical physicists who independently extrapolated Vineziano’s into a theory based on the concepts that became string theory. Hundreds of theoretical physicists built upon this concept over the next decades and out of all of this developed a family of theories called string theory which looked promising as a unifier of the large and the small.

The mathematics of string theory are long and complicated and I do not fully grasp all of it, so if you are looking to learn the mathematics of string theory you won’t get it here. I am only presenting the basic concepts for the non technical reader. So with this in mind I will proceed.

String Theory

According to Physics as it is taught in high school we have atoms which are composed of protons, electrons and neutrons. The nucleus of the atom is composed of protons and neutrons and the electrons frantically buzz around in erratic patterns but generally can be found 90% of the time in areas called orbitals.

If the text is a bit more advanced it might get into the particles that make up the protons and neutrons called quarks, and leptons. The electron is a lepton and the last time I checked there were supposed to be 6 quarks and 6 leptons, but that could have changed.

This theory explains pretty much everything that happens on a sub atomic level as long as we ignore gravity, which is easy due to the small masses involved. If we had a heavy tiny particle such as that thought to be at the core of a black hole then our theory would be decimated.

Scientists have been trying to unify the realm of gravity with the world of the strong force, the weak force and electro-magnetic forces for decades in order to find a theory that will work in and explain both the large and small domains.

String theory is one of but not the only possible solution being worked on that might possibly explain and unite these two areas. The idea that tiny vibrating strings instead of particles make up everything does have a unique appeal to Sci-Fi buffs especially because it comes with the possibility of parallel universes. The way in which the strings vibrate affect the properties they have.

Up until the 1990s there had been 5 or 6 string theories each based on whether the strings were closed, open, both and the way they vibrated. This made it hard to take the theories seriously because even if string theory was right, which theory was the right theory.

This problem was resolved in 1995 when Edward Witten announced M theory which united all of the string theories in a somewhat organized fashion. So now all was unified and we only had to contend with 11 dimensions. In addition this expanded theory introduced branes, short for membranes, which had been used in various theories earlier but had not been given such a prominent role. The word brane is prefixed by a number which would give the number of dimensions the brane . A 0-brane would be a point and a 1-brane would be a string and a 2-brane would be what we would think of as a membrane. These branes operate accross many dimensions and I won't get into all of that here but I will supply links for those who want the information. I will mention that one of the reasons gravity is supposedly so small compared to the other forces is because it is thought to be spread accross the dimensions and possibly parallel universes.

That the vibrations of tiny strings affect the properties of matter and that changing their vibrations changes these properties does change the concept of harmony in the world. These string vibrations have been compared to a symphony and that is a pleasant thought, but if they were dissonant what effect would that have if any?

String theory deals with such tiny unobservable phenomena that it would be very difficult to prove it in a laboratory or even in the “real world” and because of this situation it is often spoken of as more of a philosophical theory than a scientific one. This does not mean that someone wont come up with an experiment supporting the theory but up until now it has not happened. As with all theories it may not be true at all, but with most theories that are not valid they can be dis-proven by experiment. String theory seems to be “un-provable” one way or another.

My Conclusion

Now lets look at this. If string theory is un-provable in the laboratory and has been labeled a philosophical theory, could it be proved by less scientific means? Realize that this is nothing but conjecture bordering on Science Fiction, but lets say for just a moment that man was able to influence vibrations with his mind or his spirit. Might this not account fo magic and mysticism? Suppose that Merlin had existed and that he had mastered the ability to influence the vibrations of stings. Suppose that only man himself could prove the the theory by leaning to control stings either by himself or with the aid of machinery.

Imagine being able to change the weather or the color of things by just adjusting the “string vibrations”. Or even more off the wall -- adjust the vibrations and visit a parallel world as in the old TV show “Sliders”. Of course I can’t even say with any certainty that there is any validity to string theory, and even if there were this stretch might seem to be a bit fa fetched, but I have known people who definitely have a positive effect on the things around them. Things are going bad and they enter the room and suddenly things go better.

I have also known people who seem to have a dark cloud in tow and nothing but disaster surrounds them. Visualization and affirmations seem to be based on the idea that a person can affect the world around them. Positive thinking or its opposite may have an effect on the string vibrations in the environment.

Perhaps in the future telekinesis and such might have “scientific” explanations and you could buy your next training in “string control” from a late night infomercial from a self help guru. I certainly don’t know with any certainty that anything like this will ever happen, but do you know for certain that it won’t?


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thus, the problem of parallel universe for you, too, is of interest, I decided to write to you and ask to read twenty-first chapter, "Revelation," where, I think, St. John gives a symbolic description ofa parallel universe. My article "hereafter OR DIVINE UNIVERSEUNIVERSE" in Russian and English is available at / MB.html, where I tried to decipher the 21 chapters of "Revelation."For me it is very important to know on this subject for your opinion.Regards Manfred Beglaryan. The Republic of Armenia.

      The Revelation of St. John

      Chapter 21

      21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

      21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

      21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

      21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

      21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

      And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

      21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

      21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

      21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

      21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

      21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

      21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

      21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.

      The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

      21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

      21:18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

      21:19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 21:20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

      21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

      21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

      21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

      21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

      21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

      21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

      21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

      Manfred Beglaryan 23.07.2011



      25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. (John. 11, 25-26).

      Here it is not going about the resurrection of the physical body but about that of the divine non-material spiritual creature being formed up in the physical body which is separated from the dead body and begins to exist independently. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and talks to him; (john3-5, 6):

      5. Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6.Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John.3-56).

      In the twenty-first chapter of "THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DEVINE" the Angel comes to him as a spirit and lifts him in to a great and high mountain. There he shows him the great city - in his view and description - the holy Jerusalem, that originated from heaven and God.

      And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21-12,13,14).

      The city had the appearance of an equilateral cube. This means that it is not going about a city in the usual sense having two dimensions but about the other spiritual world. It would be better if mathematitians were involved in the matter and presented us the mathematical model of a parallel universe on the basis of John's description.

      The Base of the walls of the city are decorated with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation is decorated with jasper, the second with sapphire, the third with chalcedony, the fourth with emerald, the fifth with sardonyx, the sixth with carnelian, the seventh with chrysolite, the eighth with beryl, the ninth with topaz, the tenth with chrysoprase, the eleventh with hyacinth, and the twelfth with amethyst. The bases decorated with precious stones means that all of the universes are assigned for the Angels.

      John gives a symbolic description of the holy city of Jerusalem as he had imagined it. I suppose that the angel showed to John's soul the parallel universe where the Lord God is dwelling and where the souls of all righteous people having undergone hardest tests in the struggle of becoming godly, sinless and the corresponding to religious rules. The wall of the city had 12 foundations and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are written. This means that all universe is appointed only for souls who will move into a parallel universe and become angels. I suppose that from the descriptions of St. John about the underworld it follows that the space surrounding us is composed of twelve universes. Bases decorated with precious stones mean that all universes are assigned only for the Angels. In these worlds there may inhabit the souls of people that belonged to different nationalities and beliefs. These universes seem to differ from each other in that one is thinner and the souls brought into these realms dwell in them according to their merits. And just that other world is most probably the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ.

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 

      6 years ago from Australia

      I second the recommendations above. This is a good read. I don't care much for metaphysics, but I love science fiction as long as it's presented as fiction. Witten is quite the wizard isn't he?

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Well Thank you Green Lotus. I'd like to think that there might be a connection between our thoughts and the fundamentals of physics. Currently I need a whole lot of positive thinking, so wish me luck.

    • Green Lotus profile image


      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I'll second the motion. This a a brilliant Hub, doc and right up my ally of the universe! I'm always interesting in the the ongoing development of string theories and I admire Dr Kaku's work. (He is also a regular contributor to the program "Through the Wormhole" on Sci channel.) As a proponent of the power of positive thinking and one who's head is not in the clouds, the basic concepts of string theory make prefect sense to me. I was terrible in math, but excelled in creative studies :)

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago


      It has been about 40 years since anyone called my work brilliant. I did enjoy putting it together though, so I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • crystolite profile image


      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Brilliant piece of work that is well shared.thanks

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Angus, Scientists don't like things they cann't test in the lab. Many will never even consider string theory unless they can analyse it experimentally. Thats why it flows over into philosophy and that makes it more interesting.

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I enjoy trying to simplify complex things, but I bet your bobble head series will be far more popular and remunerative than this one. I'll have to do some more product oriented stuff. But good luck with the Bobbies.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 

      7 years ago from NJ, USA

      Excellent hub on String theory! This type of theory really piqeus my interest (even more than Bobble Heads!) - you did a great job of introducing it with plain English and breaking down concepts that are pretty difficult to understant! Now I have to go and get an Einstein Bobble-Head so I can understand the videos! Great Job!

    • AngusNz profile image


      7 years ago from Auckland

      A brilliant intro to string theory and I like the supposition at the end, I personally cannot understand how people have difficulty with the theory as it is the only way everything and all can be explained, including the 'why are we here' question at least better than the other big two. It always amazes me that Tolkein created middle earth through the music of the Ainur. And Ohm being the sound of the universe 'we may how discovered enlightenment'?


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