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String Theory: The Basic Idea

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  • String Theory: The Basic Idea

    Table of Contents
    .......The Elegant Universe

    THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE, Brian Greene, 1999, 2003
    ```(annotated and with added bold highlights by Epsilon=One)
    Chapter 1 - Tied Up with String
    String Theory: The Basic Idea
    String theory offers a powerful conceptual paradigm in which, for the first time, a framework for answering these questions has emerged. Let's first get the basic idea.

    The particles in Table 1.1 are the "letters" of all matter. Just like their linguistic counterparts, they appear to have no further internal substructure. String theory proclaims otherwise. According to string theory, if we could examine these particles with even greater precision—a precision many orders of magnitude beyond our present technological capacity—we would find that each is not pointlike, but instead consists of a tiny one-dimensional loop. Like an infinitely thin rubber band, each particle contains a vibrating, oscillating, dancing filament that physicists, lacking Gell-Mann's literary flair, have named a string. In Figure 1.1 we illustrate this essential idea of string theory by starting with an ordinary piece of matter, an apple, and repeatedly magnifying its structure to reveal its ingredients on ever smaller scales. String theory adds the new microscopic layer of a vibrating loop to the previously known progression from atoms through protons, neutrons, electrons and quarks. 2

    Figure 1.1 Matter is composed of atoms, which in turn are made from quarks and electrons. According to string theory, all such particles are actually tiny loops of vibrating strings.
    Although it is by no means obvious, we will see in Chapter 6 that this simple replacement of point-particle material constituents with strings resolves the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity. String theory thereby unravels the central Gordian knot of contemporary theoretical physics. This is a tremendous achievement, but it is only part of the reason string theory has generated such excitement.
    Table of Contents
    .......The Elegant Universe
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