An Introduction to String Theory
Shelomo Alfassa / February 2005 (Posted Oct 05)
essay was written after being inspired by listening to a lecture by
physicist Brian Greene who reopened my eyes to the wonder
and beauty of the natural world.
In 1905, Einstein
created the quantum theory of light; the idea that light exists as tiny
packets, or particles, that we now call photons. This was a most shocking
idea in 20th-century physics. He then went on to produce a theory that
helped prove something that was still controversial, that atoms did
in fact exist. It has long been said that humans live in a universe
built out of energy and matter. Einstein proved that energy and matter
are linked and are essentially one and the same. From this theory, we
are told an amazing statementthat that if 10 kilograms of matter
(anything) spontaneously turned into energy, there would be enough energy
to power a 100 Watt light bulb for 300 million years.
that it should also be possible to convert matter into energy; he never
saw it happen. Yet, in 1998 scientists took Einsteins theory and
made it a reality, creating matter from energy. From Einstein's theories,
scientists were able to harness the energy of matter beginning in the
1940s through nuclear fission. The most spectacular example of
this was the atomic bombs dropped on Japan and their nuclear explosions.
About a decade
after Einstein's death, another theory, one that would surely have gotten
his attention, was brought to the forefront of science; it is known
simply as String Theory. If we look at something as common as a book,
a rock, an apple, or anything else that exists, we can easily break
it down into its building blocks. All matter is made up of complex structures
of arranged molecules. Each molecule is itself made up of various atoms.
Each of these Atoms consists of subatomic particles and components made
up of Electrons that are surrounded by Protons and Neutrons. The latter
two have been discovered to be made from even smaller components known
as Quarks. But what is inside the Quark that makes up the Proton and
Neutrons? In String Theory, subatomic components even smaller than Electrons
and Protons are said to be made up of tiny vibrating loops of energy
known as Strings.
String Theory says
String energy oscillates not unlike strings on a violin. A violin can
vibrate strings in different patterns, which our ear interprets as different
sounds. In a similar manner, String Theory says that the vibration of
the energy does not produce sound, but they produce the different particle
species such as an Electron or Proton, etc. String Theory says that
everything on earth and in the universe is based on these tiny vibrating
strings of energy. Thus, if it oscillates a certain way, then from a
distance, unable to tell it is really a string, we see an Electron.
But if it oscillates some other direction, then we call it a Proton,
The mass of the
Electron, strength of gravity, the strength of electromagnetic force
all have been measured. Scientists have made about twenty well-known
measurements; yet, no one knows why the values expressed in these experiments
are what they are. No one knows why an Electron weighs what it does,
why certain components of matter have an unchanging set value. This
has long been a subject of significant interest to the scientific world
because these numbers, such as the weight of an Electron, etc. are critical.
This is because if any of these values were changedeven a tiny
bit, the universe, as we know it would completely cease to exist.
The nuclear processes
inside all stars (including our sun, our bodies, etc.) rely on these
numbers to be absolute perfect and consistent. Why the numbers are what
they are remains a mystery. Why are they so perfect that complex construction
of atoms can occur, that stars can shine and that life can exist remains
According to mathematic
equations that support String Theory, there are several dimensions that
we have yet to identify. Physical objects such as people are free to
move in three different directions, but String Theory proposes three
may be as many as 26 dimensions. When strings vibrate into one of these
extra dimensions, they produce a unique particle. This is like the way
air vibrates when it moves through an instrument. Depending on how the
chamber inside the instrument is manipulated, the outcome is a unique
audible sound. Thus, String Theory says that when a string vibrates
into a unique dimension, it produces a unique particle, as an example
Electron. String Theory indicates that strings of vibrating energy seem
to be the most fundamental building block in the universe.
 Einstein suggested
it should be possible to transform energy into matter, this was done
in 1998 at Stanford University.
 Electron mass
is 9.109 3826(16) × 10-31-31