Thursday, August 03, 2006

String Theory

I have no idea how accurate the physics in the following article is, or how much "spin" it's been given (hey, the last time I studied physics was in 1972 for my HSC -- hard to believe I was ever good at it!) but I find the idea fascinating. As someone who loves the imagery of God singing the world into being, as per the Creation scene in C S Lewis' The Magician's Nephew or the first part of Tolkien's Silmarillion, or, to change the image slightly, the great dance at the end of C S Lewis' Voyage to Venus: I can't help it that my imagination is captured by the ideas in this article:

Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity are both accepted as scientific fact even though they're mutually exclusive. Albert Einstein spent the second half of his life searching for a unifying truth that would reconcile the two.
Einstein was searching for String Theory. It not only reconciles General Relativity to Quantum Mechanics, but it reconciles Science and the Bible as well.
Listen to a group of physicists talk about String Theory and it will slowly dawn on you that they're explaining the entire universe as nothing but the quivering, dancing echo of the voice of God. "Let there be light."String Theory describes energy and matter as being composed of tiny, wiggling strands of energy that look like strings. And the pitch of a string's vibration determines the nature of its effect.In essence, String Theory describes space and time, matter and energy, gravity and light, indeed all of God's creation. as music.Strings of gravity vibrate at a different frequency than strings of light. The strings that make up protons vibrate at a different pitch than the strings that make up electrons. Strings composing the strong nuclear force vibrate differently than the strings composing the weak nuclear force. And electromagnetism vibrates at its own unique frequency as well.We've known for a while that matter is made of protons, neutrons and electrons - which are themselves made of quarks. Now String Theory comes along to whisper in our ear that quarks are made of vibrating, wiggling strings of energy that are unimaginably small.
According to Brian Greene, a Columbia University physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford, "If an atom were enlarged to the size of the solar system, a string would only be as large as a tree."Greene goes on to say, "Just as different vibrational patterns or frequencies of a single cello string create what we hear as different musical notes, the different way that strings vibrate give particles their unique properties, such as mass and charge. For example, the only difference between the particles making up you and me - and the particles that transmit gravity and the other forces - is the way these tiny strings vibrate. Composed of an enormous number of these oscillating strings, the universe can be thought of as a grand, cosmic symphony."
According to String Theory, what appears to be empty space is actually a tumultuous ocean of strings vibrating at the precise frequencies that create the 4 dimensions you and I call height, width, depth and time. We live in these 4 dimensions and know them well. But String Theory describes an additional 7 dimensions beyond our ability to perceive.Suddenly the idea of an invisible world isn't quite so hard to believe.Physicist David Gross of the University of California in Santa Barbara says, "It's as if we've stumbled in the dark into a house which we thought was a 2-bedroom apartment and now we're discovering there's a 19-room mansion at least, and maybe it's got a thousand rooms and we're just beginning our journey." H. Williams

No comments: