Friday, September 25, 2009

String Theory

In the early years of the 20th century, the atom - long believed to be the smallest building-block of matter - was proven to consist of even smaller components called protons, neutrons, and electrons, which are known as subatomic particles. Beginning in the 1960s, other subatomic particles were discovered. In the 1980s, it was discovered that protons and neutrons (and other hadrons) are themselves made up of smaller particles called quarks. Quantum theory is the set of rules that describes the interactions of these particles.

In the 1980s, a new mathematical model of theoretical physics called string theory emerged. It showed how all the particles, and all of the forms of energy in the universe, could be constructed by hypothetical one-dimensional "strings," infinitely small building-blocks that have only the dimension of length, but not height or width. Further, string theory suggested that the universe is made up of multiple dimensions. We are familiar with height, width, and length as three dimensional space, and time gives a total of four observable dimensions. However, string theories supported the possibility of ten [now eleven] dimensions--the remaining 6 [now 7] of which we can't detect directly. These "strings" vibrate in multiple dimensions, and depending on how they vibrate, they might be seen in 3-dimensional space as matter, light, or gravity. It is the vibration of the string which determines whether it appears to be matter or energy, and every form of matter or energy is the result of the vibration of strings.*
I am continually awestruck at the complexity of the visible, detectable, knowable, universe. And yet, what is detectable and observable from a physicist's perspective is only 4/11ths or 36% of the now known universe. I am humbled by a Creator God who has made a creation that is beyond our comprehension. As scientists unravel mysteries there continue to be greater mysteries to unravel. I like the approach of continually digging deeper into these mysterious subjects while humbly recognizing that we will never achieve complete knowledge. For now, "we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror"
(1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT).

*Wikipedia: Introduction to M-theory

2 comments:

  1. Very nice dicription of Sting T. Keith! PKS

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Harry Powers/Phil. Wikipedia's non-technical article on M-theory is very helpful. What an amazing universe. Or should we say universes?

    ReplyDelete