What is string theory and what does it mean for human kind? String theory is a theory that seeks to unify the four forces of nature and explain the origins of our universe. Before the string theory, it was impossible to combine the theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. By using tiny vibrating strings of energy that are 10-33 m in length, scientists can create all the fundamental particles we’ve started to find using particle accelerators. Then, using these particles they can try to unite the two different theories and create a universe that is perhaps, more perfect than the Standard Model will allow. And what’s great about string theory is that it explains more than just how gravity, electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force work, but it also can make predictions about how our universe works, how the Big Bang formed and even possibly whether there are other unseen worlds that are right next to us! What this all means is that string theory just might explain things that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics just can’t explain!
One thing that sort of sets string theory apart from other theories in science is its requirement of eleven different dimensions –– up, down, right, left, back, forth and time as well as seven other super small dimensions that humans cannot notice. An analogy to consider is a telephone line that is very far away. To a distant observer, the telephone line has one dimension (length) but in reality has many more (width, height, depth, clockwise and counterclockwise). This is important because it means that the strings can vibrate and move according to these overlapping dimensions and create different particles. This unification is a jewel in the minds of String Theorists because they seek to harmonize the universe.
Unification has always been a theme in science that extends back centuries. However, the unification of the forces started with the combination of electric force and magnetic force by Maxwell in late nineteenth century. Einstein was also involved in the attempts to unify all the forces of the universe but could not find a way to unite the very strong electromagnetic force and gravity, despite the same rate of travel. After decades of scientists being able to calculate but not understand forces, string theory came along and offered a “simple” explanation –– strings of energy that can create different particles which make up matter and forces. Founding scientists like Leonard Susskind, Gabriele Veneziano and Ed Witten often built off each other’s ideas. For instance, Susskind was able to build off Veneziano’s work with one of Euler’s equations and propose a string theory that helped explain a few problems with older models. This much have been common through the profession because by the time Ed Witten created his M-Theory, there were five major string theories that “all” explained the universe!
The implications of string theory are pretty far-reaching. The most...