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String Theory: The Holy Grail of Quantum Mechanics?

So what's all this hype about "string theory"? Find out what scientists are saying about it now!


Photo: Rainer Ebert

Quantum physics making your head spin? You aren't alone. Let A Moment of Science help you break it down.

String theory is extremely complicated and, to make matters worse, it’s proving itself very difficult to verify.

However, scientists at the Imperial College London and Stanford University now claim that they are making predictions that can actually be tested by experiments! After all, that’s what science is all about, right?

The major goal for some quantum physicists is to create a unified “theory of everything“. Those scientists may still be out of luck as far as practical experimentation goes. However, there may be hope for those studying quantum entanglement. Completely lost?

Let’s break it down. Literally.

String theory basically states that physical matter can be broken down even smaller than elections, and yes, even smaller than quarks too!

What does this matter look like? You guessed it: strings, or rather tiny string-like loops that are vibrating at different frequencies.

The theory is extremely complex and forces scientists to think in terms of six dimensions (instead of four).

Pretty mind-blowing stuff.

Scientists pursue this theory in the hopes of finding the link between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Michael Duff of Imperial College London believes physicists are now one step closer to cracking the code. In his studies, he realized a similarity in the mathematics of black holes (extremely “big” physics) and quantum systems, called qubits (extremely “small” physics). Using this math, Duff has already gathered new information about the nature of qubits.

All Tangled Up

So is this sound science, or just a happy coincidence?

That question (as with many questions in quantum mechanics) remains to be answered. Duff makes it clear that this math is only applicable to what scientists call qubit entanglement. It doesn’t necessarily apply to string theory in general.

So for now, the quest for the “theory of everything” continues on.

Read More:

  • String Theory Finally Does Something Useful (Wired)
  • Four-Qubit Entanglement Classification from String Theory (PhysicalReviewLetters)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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  • Knut Holt

    There must be some deeper mechism behind relativity and quantum mechanics that has to be found before a theory of everything can be made.

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