Monday, May 16, 2011

TOE strings

Is this Eye from Micro or Macro cosmos?

Space research is generally concerned with rather big distances and objects. For learning more Astrophysicists and other scientists need applied mathematics, physics, chemistry and are totally dependent on those very small things, photons.

Although we have learned much about Creation there is much more to be figured out. Like the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who built his Newtonian Telescope and found out much about visible light once said
"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

The wisdom visible in God's orderly creation gets even more amazing when we look at the little things and stretch our computer assisted minds to figure them out. One of the big surprises of modern physics has been the similarities observed between macro cosmos, the Universe, and micro cosmos. Studying quarks and atoms relating to matter and energy we also learn about supernovas and galaxies and their interactions. Kind of simplicity in modularity. As Newton noticed about the Nature: "Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."

The key to progress in the extreme areas of research beyond our five or six senses where empirical study is not possible or practical or affordable is in the brain activity of humans. Democritus was thinking about atoms he could not possibly see and modern men think about quarks and strings. For this thinking new mathematical tools have been developed or are under development in order to adequately process new theories.

"Divine mathematics" would be a great expression because God of Israel is a great mathematician. But for the fear that theological words would corrupt the most exact of exact sciences has left such expressions out from serious scientific talk. On the basis of Nature and its laws Newton noted "God created everything by number, weight and measure" and this is indeed what most modern science is finding - not the chaos assumed by Democritus but the order admired by Newton.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

"What is there in places empty of matter? and Whence is it that the sun and planets gravitate toward one another without dense matter between them? Whence is it that Nature doth nothing in vain? and Whence arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world? To what end are comets? and Whence is it that planets move all one and the same way in orbs concentrick, while comets move all manner of ways in orbs very excentrick? and What hinders the fixed stars from falling upon one another?"
Sir Isaac Newton

Such matters concern us very much also today. In more modern words, how does gravity, first recognized as such by Newton and ingeniously explained by Einstein later on, fit together with quantum physics?
For the human race this is one the great mysteries of Creation. Solution would be Theory of Everything (TOE).

Well, at least everything theoretical physicists are talking about today but not necessarily everything biologists are concerned with - or theologians!

Gabrielo Veneziano

Wikipedia introduces Gabrielo Veneziano (1944) in pleasantly humble way telling about his studies in Leonardo da Vinci lyceo in Florence, then at the University of Florence and finally about his three years of doctoral studies in the Promised Land, Weitzmann Institute in Rehovot. Since 2004 he has held the Chair of Elementary Particles, Gravitation and Cosmology at the Collège de France in Paris:

"He completed his PhD studies in under three years, getting his degree at the end of 1967. The PhD thesis was largely based on his research with his advisor, Hector Rubinstein and on work done in collaboration with Marco Ademollo (a professor in Florence) and Miguel Virasoro. That work developed important ideas initiated by Sergio Fubini and collaborators on a string approach to strong interactions based on “superconvergence”."

This is quite controlled description of the studies of a man who has revolutionized our understanding of the most fundamental structures in the Universe!

String theory did not immediately take the scientific world by storm and there was a time when some expected it to be left in the dustbin of the History of Science. However, it took off again and we are currently living in the midst of the second revolution of string theory and nobody knows where it will lead. There is no going back and the Large Hadron Collider and other very expensive machines are hard at work banging particles together to find out more about them.

Strings everywhere
In 1968 Gabriele Veneziano proposed something called a dual resonance model. This is the starting point of the first string theory revolution. I am not capable even to explain what it includes. Those of you who know are aware that "it was based upon the observation that the amplitudes for the s-channel scatterings matched exactly with the amplitudes for the t-channel scatterings among mesons and also the Regge trajectory." Note especially the Regge trajectory!

However a great cheat sheet for dummies like me says that "1970 String theory is created when physicists interpret Veneziano’s model as describing a universe of vibrating strings."

In short, we are all essentially vibrating strings. Great.

Looking at the smallest things

This drawing taken from a wikipedia article nicely shows the level of detail. This is also by large the order of how things have been noted by us humans since the invention of microscopes and telescopes in early 17th century Netherlands.

Levels of magnification:
1. Macroscopic level – Matter
2. Molecular level
3. Atomic level – Protons, neutrons, and electrons
4. Subatomic level – Electron
5. Subatomic level – Quarks
6. String level

Orion and Men in Black II

So we are told that there are many theories

Bosonic string theory

Superstring theory (or Supersymmetric string theory)
Type I, Type IIA, Type IIB, Heterotic string theories (Type HE, Type HO)

Matrix theory

Brane world scenarios
Randall-Sundrum models (or RS1 and RS2)


What interests me here as a theologian is, among others, M-theory which requires that there are eleven dimensions, not more and not less. Space-time is commonly understood as length, width, height and time, so that a physical object is an event in this continuum. That makes sense. As basically used to 3D we cannot see what a four-dimensional object looks like but we can project it as a three dimensional model. Nice.

(Scientists have taken this a bit further with the holographic principle. "The holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon...string theory admits a lower dimensional description in which gravity emerges from it in what would now be called a holographic way." or whatever).


Orion with the neck belt in Men In Black
Men in Black movie has a smart way of looking at the problem of dimensions and distances in relative space and time. In our minds we are easily able to fit an entire galaxy into that tiny object carried by the cat but our brains will still find it hard to explain such minuscule suns, moons and living things.

11 dimensions cannot be easily imagined even in the holographic way. Luckily forus, M-theorists say that these higher dimensions are in the micro-cosmos and therefore do not bother us that much in our normal way of life.

Or who knows what is there!

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