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Superstring Theory February 26, 2009

Posted by tap0340 in Philosophy of physics.

Hi everyone,

I’m glad you all tried to stay focused during my talk, even though it was a little heavy and out there! In the following paragraphs, I will briefly discuss the history behind String Theory, and some of the people who have dedicated their lives to finding a unified theory of everything. Further more, I will try to explain this new, and radical idea of strings and the extra dimensions. There were good questions and comments during my presentation that I would also like to address.

In the early twentieth century, Albert Einstein developed his Special Theory of Relativity, combating some of Isaac Newton’s theories on motion. Using this new concept of motion, he decided to tackle an even greater problem that he saw. He wanted to find the cause of gravity. Even Newton himself said how crazy it seems that a body of mass (the sun), which is millions of miles away, can reach across empty space and exert influence (gravity) on a smaller body of mass, like earth. Einstein took the challenge. He found that when mass is present, it causes space and time to warp and curve around it. It’s along these curves that smaller masses, like the planets in our solar system, move in an orbital fashion. His theory was proven in 1919 by astronomical observation. He became a celebrity over night, and there ensued a paradigm shift.

Around the same time, a German mathemetician and physicist, named Theodor Kaluza, attempted to describe the other known force at the time, electromagnetism. He tried to describe it in a similar way that Einstein had, using warps and curves. There were no more dimensions for him to warp or curve, so he conceptualized there being one more dimension of space. When he did this, the formula he came up with produced Maxwell’s equation for electromagnetism, and Einstein’s equations to descibe gravity. He thought he had finally unified the two forces.

more to come…

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