BlogBrain Blog

I Learned a Little About String Theory

Truth be told, I’m attempting to bait this friend of ours so that she’ll visit our website… she adores listening to podcasts and has been soaking up information like a sponge for the past several years or so. Information like what? Well apparently she got through all ka-zillion ‘seasons’ of Star Talk, hosted by the legendary Neil deGrasse Tyson as well as countless other podcasts exploring quantum science or conspiracy theories and cooking shows or Rick & Morty fan squawking. I’ve come to the conclusion that she enjoys her podcasts like I enjoy my music…

Therefore, QT-Pie, this one is for you:

What is ‘string theory’? Well… I’m not really sure, let’s see what I can learn from a 5 minute internet search.

The term ‘string theory’ has been around for decades at this point; developed in the 60s by scientists seeking to understand how reality functioned. Magic strings connect everything to everything else rather than zero-dimensional points… which, I can easily guess, aren’t connected to anything.

1968; looks like we have a theoretical physicist {worked at European Organization for Nuclear Research} who made a dual-resonance model because he had an epic light bulb moment realizing he could use a 2 century old Euler beta function formula to explain what was going on between some particles that REALLY liked {or disliked, I suppose} each other. This guy’s name was Gabriele Veneziano.

1970; ‘string theory’ is born because these 3 physicists used aforementioned guy’s model to suggest our universe is a bunch of tiny vibrating strings. These guys were: Leonard Susskind, Holger Nielsen, and Yoichiro Nambu. A year later, some physics professor by the name of Pierre Ramond triggered the exploration of ‘super-string’ theory because of his light-bulb moment of ‘omg super-symmetry.’ I have a whole new understanding of that character in Angry Birds 2, Silver {will have to watch that movie again soon.}

1974; Tamiaki Yoneya {Japanese physicist} has mild epiphany about something called a graviton and realizes string theory could also be a theory of gravity! How exciting, probably! My brain is busy imagining how these explorations happen… and I’m visualizing so many huge chalkboards full of math equations. I’m digging the theory, so far as I understand, which is that physical reality is kind of like a vast spider’s web?

A full decade later {what can we say? The 70s were chaotic} an English and American physicist got together, made a discovery and got a thing named after them! The Green-Schwarz mechanism was born and caused some kind of revolution.

1985; the “Princeton String Quartet” was most certainly NOT a famous violinist group, but another pack of physicists discovering ‘hybrid’ strings. Apparently super-string and bosonic string mated somehow and so heterotic string was born! {For the record, because it’s rude not to include names when possible, these fabulous non-violinists were: David Goss, Jeffery Harvey, Emil Martinec, and Ryan Rohm.}

A decade later a theoretical physicist by the name of Edward Witten offered the possibility that the 5 different, accepted versions of string theory might not actually be separate. He coined it M-theory… and so began the second super-string revolution. Note; also Princeton, in New Jersey, same school. These students were pumped up exploring the structure of reality, how exciting! What happened next?

Unfortunately, that’s all the information I could gather in 5 minutes!