- Education and Science
The Real Nature Of The Universe: Strings Curled Up In Extra Dimensions?
Physicists have long tried to write a single theory, which would be known as the Grand Unified Theory to account for the inherent unification of the four forces. But so far, the complexities involved have been too daunting to master. Until superstrings... or so was thought.
Superstrings is a fairly new theory which various physicists and mathematicians are claiming is the long-sought Theory Of Everything. According to the concept of superstrings, the universe contains ten separate dimensions, and the fundamental building blocks of matter and energy are not infinitesimal points as previously believed by science, but infinitesimal strings. They say that it is wholly natural to conceive of a ten- or eleven- or more-dimensional universe comprised completely of strings that would be so small that if 1,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 of them were laid end to end they would be only a centimeter long.
This superstring theory is a product of an unprecedented cooperation between theoretical physicists on one hand and mainstream mathematicians on the other. Physics has historically had little influence on pure mathematics since the inception of Einstein's general relativity theory, although mathematical theories developed strictly to solve pure-math problems have recently been adopted by physics in an attempt to explain various scientific relationships.
The passion with which super-strings have been embraced by both the mathematics and physics communities has been nothing short of astonishing. Thousands of scientific papers have been published in the last few years alone dealing with the amazing possibilities offered by this newest aspect of science.
The superstring theory has developed into an inter-disciplinary study which attempts to bridge the gap between physics and mathematics. The conclusions which can be drawn from the superstring concepts picture the universe as an entity in which all matter / energy, all nuclear forces, all galaxies, stars, planets, people, insects and atoms from the moment of the Big Bang to the point where time stops are only the result of the various interactions of countless numbers of these infinitesimal strings. But in order to make some mathematical sense out of these inconceivable interactions on such an incredibly tiny scale, the scientists have to postulate the existence of at least six additional dimensions over the presently acknowledged four of space/ time. These extra six dimensions are supposed to exist on what is known as the Planck scale, which is 10^33 centimeters wide, far smaller than the atomic or even the electronic scale.
The story goes as follows: At the time of the Big Bang, approximately 15 billion years ago, all of the matter / energy in the universe was condensed into a single 10-dimensional Planck length which comprised the so-called "cosmic egg." Once this sphere exploded, only three of the spatial dimensions expanded with the matter which made up the newborn universe. The other six dimensions remained curled up in impossibly tight configurations at exactly the same scale as that of the cosmic egg: a single Planck length. At this incredible smallness science states that everything exists as a vibrational pattern of the various one-dimensional strings in a ten-dimensional space.