Christian Long

Brian Greene: String Theory

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Reflection by DEREK M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Brian Greene:  String Theory

The first few times I watched String Theory by Brain Greene, I was rather confused.

I found myself eliminating the possibility of this theory because I did not understand the complexity of the atom or multiple dimensions. It was like anything too complex for the typical human. It became too much for me to wrap my head around so I pushed it aside. I did not believe the credibility of String Theory. I found it to be way too complex for a second glance, and the concept of multiple dimensions was just too much for me to handle.

It was about half way through the presentation of the third time I watched it that I really became somewhat interested in String theory.

I started wondering. “What If?” It was then I decided that String Theory could be possible. After pondering for a few minutes, I became increasingly curious, and so I decided to do a little research myself.

String Theory was meant to provide an explanation for the relationship between mass and spin for particles called hadrons, which are also known as the proton and the neutron. Things didn’t work out, though, and Quantum Chromo-dynamics became a better theory for hadrons. But particles in string theory are seen as ‘excitations’ of the string which includes a particle with zero mass and two units of spin.

If there was a good quantum theory of gravity, then the particle that would carry the gravitational force would have zero mass and two units of spin, which has been known by theoretical physicists for awhile. The theorized particle in String Theory is known as the graviton.

This led many early theorists to propose that string theory should be applied as a theory of quantum gravity.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough that there is a graviton predicted by string theory. Someone can add a graviton to quantum field theory, but then the calculations that describe Nature become useless. This is because particle interactions occur at a single point of space-time. For gravitons, the mathematics is so poor at zero distance, that the answers just don’t make sense. In String Theory, the strings collide over a finite distance and the resulting answers make theoretical sense.

The research does not officially prove that String Theory is the optimal theory for quantum mechanics, but it provides data for science to continue to explore the world of the atom. String Theory provides insight into the world of atoms and particles that would not necessarily be considered as some of the most crucial parts of the universe today, without some research. The tests and experiments that are being run today are continually providing more in depth analysis to the proponents of String Theory.

Although at a personal level, I am still at odds with String Theory.

There is no reason for String Theory not to be incessantly searched for the answers to the universe. I am familiar with the dimensions of time and space, but others are much too complex for me to fully comprehend. Thankfully there are many dedicated scientists that are meant to find out the rules of quantum physics such as Brian Greene. Hopefully, String Theory can provide some necessary input on the structure of the world. I look forward to hearing more from the science of quantum mechanics very soon.

Who knows.  String Theory may be the next revelation just waiting to be discovered. For the time and efforts of the scientists at CERN and other laboratories around the world, I hope that the research that is being accomplished is worth discovering.

If you were interested in this video, you might want to see Brian Cox’s TED Talk on the Cern Supercollider, too.


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