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Cosmology and Superstring Theory

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  • Cosmology and Superstring Theory

    Table of Contents
    .......The Elegant Universe
    THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE, Brian Greene, 1999, 2003
    ```(annotated and with added bold highlights by Epsilon=One)
    Chapter 14 - Reflections on Cosmology
    Cosmology and Superstring Theory
    There remains a sliver of Figure 14.1, between the big bang and the Planck time, that we have not yet discussed. By blindly applying the equations of general relativity to that region, physicists have found that the universe continues to get ever smaller, ever hotter, and ever denser, as we move backward in time toward the bang. At time zero, as the size of the universe vanishes, the temperature and density soar to infinity, giving us the most extreme signal that this theoretical model of the universe, firmly rooted in the classical gravitational framework of general relativity, has completely broken down.

    Nature is telling us emphatically that under such conditions we must merge general relativity and quantum mechanics—in other words, we must make use of string theory. Currently, research on the implications of string theory for cosmology is at an early stage of development. Perturbative methods can, at best, give skeletal insights, since the extremes of energy, temperature, and density require precision analysis. Although the second superstring revolution has provided some nonperturbative techniques, it will be some time before they are honed for the kinds of calculations required in a cosmological setting. Nevertheless, as we now discuss, during the last decade or so, physicists have taken the first steps toward understanding string cosmology. Here is what they have found.

    It appears that there are three essential ways in which string theory modifies the standard cosmological model. First, in a manner that current research continues to clarify, string theory implies that the universe has what amounts to a smallest possible size. This has profound consequences for our understanding of the universe at the moment of the bang itself, when the standard theory claims that its size has shrunk all the way to zero. Second, string theory has a small-radius/large-radius duality (intimately related to its having a smallest possible size), which also has deep cosmological significance, as we will see in a moment. Finally, string theory has more than four spacetime dimensions, and from a cosmological standpoint, we must address the evolution of them all. Let's discuss these points in greater detail.
    Table of Contents
    .......The Elegant Universe
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