string theory

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string theory,

description of elementary particleselementary particles,
the most basic physical constituents of the universe. Basic Constituents of Matter

Molecules are built up from the atom, which is the basic unit of any chemical element. The atom in turn is made from the proton, neutron, and electron.
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 based on one-dimensional curves, or "strings," instead of point particles. Superstring theory, which is string theory that contains a kind of symmetry known as supersymmetrysupersymmetry,
in physics, theory concerning the relationship of the elementary particles called boson to those known as fermions, and vice versa, and linking the four fundamental forces.
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, has been seen by some physicists as a way of unifying the four known fundamental forces of nature, but a lack of evidence for supersymmetric particles, especially in the experiments conducted by the Large Hadron Collider, has called supersymmetry into question. The strings are embedded in a space-timespace-time,
central concept in the theory of relativity that replaces the earlier concepts of space and time as separate absolute entities. In relativity one cannot uniquely distinguish space and time as elements in descriptions of events.
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 having as many as 10 dimensions—the three ordinary dimensions plus time and seven compactified dimensions. The energy-scale at which the stringlike properties would become evident is so high that it is currently unclear how any of the forms of the theory could be tested.


See P. C. W. Davies and J. Brown, ed., Superstrings (1988); L. Smolin, The Trouble with Physics (2006).

string theory

A theory of elementary particles based on the idea that the fundamental entities are not pointlike particles but finite lines, known as strings, or closed loops formed by strings (see also cosmic strings). Incorporating the concept of strings into supersymmetry has led to superstring theory, in which all the fundamental forces are unified at the Planck time using a multidimensional framework called a superstring; this is still a highly speculative theory.

string theory

The belief that all physical matter is made up of vibrating elements called "strings." Officially known as "superstring theory," it differs from traditional physics, in which all matter is made up of ball-like particles.
References in periodicals archive ?
But until recently, there has been a glaring weak spot: string theorists have been unable to probe all solutions of the model, failing miserably to examine what is called the "non-perturbative region," which I will describe shortly.
Perhaps not, so it was embarrassing for string theorists to have five different self-consistent strings, all of which can unite the two fundamental theories in physics, the theory of gravity and the quantum theory.
Actually, most string theorists think these criticisms are silly.
And besides one-dimensional strings, the abstruse mathematics of M-theory allows for the existence of higher-dimensional fundamental objects, which string theorists refer to as membranes, or branes for short.
String math describing such ripples stems from an idea called the holographic principle, used by string theorists to describe certain kinds of black holes.
The point is that we have two different kinds of systems capturing the same kind of physics," says string theorist Clifford Johnson of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Defending their enterprise and themselves, string theorists excuse their model's shortcomings as typical for a work in progress.
By going out on a limb with extra dimensions and extra particles, string theorists get glimpses of possible answers to major questions that conventional theory has left unanswered.
And even when string theorists have done so, the answers they've gotten are often found to disagree with facts or accepted physical laws.
To complicate matters further, string theorists don't actually know the full differential equations describing the underlying quantum theory They have to approximate those equations by starting with simplified, bare-bones versions, then introducing liner and liner corrections.
The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (Pantheon, 1992); physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin remarks: "String theory is very demanding; few of the theorists who work on other problems have the background to understand technical articles on string theory, and few of the string theorists have time to keep up with anything else in physics, least of all with high-energy experiments.
It is a pity that it has not yet been more successful, but string theorists like everyone else are trying to make the best of a very difficult moment in the history of physics.