From Maria Juneth Gomez, third year, College of Science.

String theory is a development in quantum field theory, general relativity, and mathematics. Physicists believe that this theory would not only unify the forces of gravity and electromagnetism, but would also explain the existence of elementary particles and constants such as the electron’s charge or the speed of light.

“Strings are like typical guitar strings, when one plucks a guitar string under different tensions, it will produce different tones. A string vibrating with different ‘modes’ will represent the subatomic or fundamental particles,” Dr. Augusto Morales Jr. of the Mathematics and Physics Department, UST College of Science told the Varsitarian.

Interest in string theory is driven largely by the hope that it will ultimately link together all known physical phenomena. In other words, it hopes to explain why everything acts the way it does. It has emerged as the most promising approach to unifying quantum mechanics—the laws governing very small things such as atoms—with general relativity, which describes the world in terms of stars and galaxies.

According to Morales, representing the basic building blocks of the universe as strings with one dimension, rather than pointlike objects (things with zero radius) would ease problems in understanding physical laws. Usually, representing fundamental particles as pointlike objects leads to divergence problems, where force laws yield infinity, especially in dealing with gravity.

In string theory, each fundamental particle is created in some sense by different patterns of vibration of the strings.

The theory calls for six or more dimensions that are curled up into tiny spaces which generate forces comparable to gravity.

The zen of the mundane

“The theory is a radical departure from the more verifiable predictions of quantum mechanics or even quantum field theory,” Morales said.

A theory of everything

The new Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most advanced particle accelerator located in Geneva, Switzerland, will ascertain if the string theory can lead to a theory of everything. LHC with its 27-kilometer circumference tunnel will use electric and/or magnetic fields to propel electrically charged particles to high speeds. Physicists hope that the data to be collected by LHC can prove the predictions made in string theory.

“If the string theory is found to be physically viable, much of the basic science, including mathematics would need to be rewritten,” Morales said.

As of now, there is no significant development in string theory. Theoretical physicists all over the world are still racing and struggling to combine the pieces that might revolutionize the understanding of the universe. Jefferson O. Evalarosa



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