string theory


  • [3] One of the main developments of the past several decades in string theory was the discovery of certain ‘dualities’, mathematical transformations that identify one physical
    theory with another.

  • One of the goals of current research in string theory is to find a solution of the theory that reproduces the observed spectrum of elementary particles, with a small cosmological
    constant, containing dark matter and a plausible mechanism for cosmic inflation.

  • [13] The starting point for string theory is the idea that the point-like particles of quantum field theory can also be modeled as one-dimensional objects called strings.

  • Main articles: S-duality and T-duality A notable fact about string theory is that the different versions of the theory all turn out to be related in highly nontrivial ways.

  • [7][8] Since string theory incorporates all of the fundamental interactions, including gravity, many physicists hope that it will eventually be developed to the point where
    it fully describes our universe, making it a theory of everything.

  • Another issue is that the theory is thought to describe an enormous landscape of possible universes, which has complicated efforts to develop theories of particle physics
    based on string theory.

  • String theory has contributed a number of advances to mathematical physics, which have been applied to a variety of problems in black hole physics, early universe cosmology,
    nuclear physics, and condensed matter physics, and it has stimulated a number of major developments in pure mathematics.

  • In late 1997, theorists discovered an important relationship called the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence), which relates string
    theory to another type of physical theory called a quantum field theory.

  • In certain limiting cases corresponding to the cusps, it is natural to describe the physics using one of the six theories labeled there.

  • [15] Unlike in quantum field theory, string theory does not have a full non-perturbative definition, so many of the theoretical questions that physicists would like to answer
    remain out of reach.

  • This theory describes the behavior of a set of nine large matrices.

  • [25] In general, the term duality refers to a situation where two seemingly different physical systems turn out to be equivalent in a nontrivial way.

  • [2] In addition to the problem of developing a consistent theory of quantum gravity, there are many other fundamental problems in the physics of atomic nuclei, black holes,
    and the early universe.

  • The study of D-branes in string theory has led to important results such as the AdS/CFT correspondence, which has shed light on many problems in quantum field theory.

  • In order to describe real physical phenomena using string theory, one must therefore imagine scenarios in which these extra dimensions would not be observed in experiments.

  • [42] Speaking at a string theory conference in 1995, Edward Witten made the surprising suggestion that all five superstring theories were in fact just different limiting cases
    of a single theory in eleven spacetime dimensions.

  • [9] One of the challenges of string theory is that the full theory does not have a satisfactory definition in all circumstances.

  • One of the challenges of string theory is that the full theory does not have a satisfactory definition in all circumstances.

  • One of the relationships that can exist between different string theories is called S-duality.

  • Physicists studying string theory have discovered a number of these dualities between different versions of string theory, and this has led to the conjecture that all consistent
    versions of string theory are subsumed in a single framework known as M-theory.

  • [4] Studies of string theory have also yielded a number of results on the nature of black holes and the gravitational interaction.

  • In some cases, by modeling spacetime in a different number of dimensions, a theory becomes more mathematically tractable, and one can perform calculations and gain general
    insights more easily.

  • This idea plays an important role in attempts to develop models of real-world physics based on string theory, and it provides a natural explanation for the weakness of gravity
    compared to the other fundamental forces.

  • String theory has proved to be an important tool for investigating the theoretical properties of black holes because it provides a framework in which theorists can study their

  • [16] In theories of particle physics based on string theory, the characteristic length scale of strings is assumed to be on the order of the Planck length, or meters, the
    scale at which the effects of quantum gravity are believed to become significant.

  • On distance scales larger than the string scale, a string will look just like an ordinary particle consistent with non-string models of elementary particles, with its mass,
    charge, and other properties determined by the vibrational state of the string.

  • If two theories are related by a duality, it means that one theory can be transformed in some way so that it ends up looking just like the other theory.

  • Because string theory potentially provides a unified description of gravity and particle physics, it is a candidate for a theory of everything, a self-contained mathematical
    model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of matter.

  • The starting point for string theory is the idea that the point-like particles of particle physics can also be modeled as one-dimensional objects called strings.

  • While there has been progress toward these goals, it is not known to what extent string theory describes the real world or how much freedom the theory allows in the choice
    of details.

  • Despite much work on these problems, it is not known to what extent string theory describes the real world or how much freedom the theory allows in the choice of its details.

  • In addition, this perspective led him to give a precise definition of entropy as the natural logarithm of the number of different states of the molecules (also called microstates)
    that give rise to the same macroscopic features.

  • [15] On much larger length scales, such as the scales visible in physics laboratories, such objects would be indistinguishable from zero-dimensional point particles, and the
    vibrational state of the string would determine the type of particle.

  • There are certain paradoxes that arise when one attempts to understand the quantum aspects of black holes, and work on string theory has attempted to clarify these issues.

  • [b] There are also situations where theories in two or three spacetime dimensions are useful for describing phenomena in condensed matter physics.

  • In ordinary particle theories, one can consider any collection of elementary particles whose classical behavior is described by an arbitrary Lagrangian.

  • [64] Although it was originally developed in this very particular and physically unrealistic context in string theory, the entropy calculation of Strominger and Vafa has led
    to a qualitative understanding of how black hole entropy can be accounted for in any theory of quantum gravity.

  • [48] The development of the matrix model formulation of M-theory has led physicists to consider various connections between string theory and a branch of mathematics called
    noncommutative geometry.

  • Subsequently, it was realized that the very properties that made string theory unsuitable as a theory of nuclear physics made it a promising candidate for a quantum theory
    of gravity.

  • Five consistent versions of superstring theory were developed before it was conjectured in the mid-1990s that they were all different limiting cases of a single theory in
    eleven dimensions known as M-theory.

  • Indeed, in 1998, Strominger argued that the original result could be generalized to an arbitrary consistent theory of quantum gravity without relying on strings or supersymmetry.

  • [10] It is also not clear whether there is any principle by which string theory selects its vacuum state, the physical state that determines the properties of our universe.

  • Two theories related by a duality need not be string theories.

  • Black holes are also important for theoretical reasons, as they present profound challenges for theorists attempting to understand the quantum aspects of gravity.

  • The other is quantum mechanics, a completely different formulation, which uses known probability principles to describe physical phenomena at the micro-level.

  • [57] Like any physical system, a black hole has an entropy defined in terms of the number of different microstates that lead to the same macroscopic features.

  • [3] The original version of string theory was bosonic string theory, but this version described only bosons, a class of particles that transmit forces between the matter particles,
    or fermions.

  • [5] This is a theoretical result that relates string theory to other physical theories which are better understood theoretically.

  • In physics, a matrix model is a particular kind of physical theory whose mathematical formulation involves the notion of a matrix in an important way.

  • [25] Another relationship between different string theories is T-duality.

  • [38] Theorists also found that different string theories may be related by T-duality.

  • The scattering of strings is most straightforwardly defined using the techniques of perturbation theory, but it is not known in general how to define string theory nonperturbatively.

  • By the late 1970s, these two frameworks had proven to be sufficient to explain most of the observed features of the universe, from elementary particles to atoms to the evolution
    of stars and the universe as a whole.

  • Strominger and Vafa analyzed such D-brane systems and calculated the number of different ways of placing D-branes in spacetime so that their combined mass and charge is equal
    to a given mass and charge for the resulting black hole.

  • [26] Branes Main article: Brane Open strings attached to a pair of D-branes In string theory and other related theories, a brane is a physical object that generalizes the
    notion of a point particle to higher dimensions.

  • [23] Another approach to reducing the number of dimensions is the so-called brane-world scenario.

  • Einstein’s general theory of relativity treats time as a dimension on par with the three spatial dimensions; in general relativity, space and time are not modeled as separate
    entities but are instead unified to a four-dimensional (4D) spacetime.

  • Whereas general relativity makes sense in any number of dimensions, supergravity places an upper limit on the number of dimensions.

  • [13] In quantum field theory, one typically computes the probabilities of various physical events using the techniques of perturbation theory.

  • Finding such a derivation of this formula was considered an important test of the viability of any theory of quantum gravity such as string theory.

  • However, not every way of compactifying the extra dimensions produces a model with the right properties to describe nature.

  • [19] In spite of the fact that the Universe is well described by 4D spacetime, there are several reasons why physicists consider theories in other dimensions.

  • One of the problems was that the laws of physics appear to distinguish between clockwise and counterclockwise, a phenomenon known as chirality.

  • “[46] In the absence of an understanding of the true meaning and structure of M-theory, Witten has suggested that the M should stand for “magic”, “mystery”, or “membrane”
    according to taste, and the true meaning of the title should be decided when a more fundamental formulation of the theory is known.

  • A quantum theory of gravity is needed in order to reconcile general relativity with the principles of quantum mechanics, but difficulties arise when one attempts to apply
    the usual prescriptions of quantum theory to the force of gravity.

  • This understanding changed in 1995 when Edward Witten suggested that the five theories were just special limiting cases of an eleven-dimensional theory called M-theory.

  • Subsequent work by Strominger, Vafa, and others refined the original calculations and gave the precise values of the “quantum corrections” needed to describe very small black

  • String theory was first studied in the late 1960s as a theory of the strong nuclear force, before being abandoned in favor of quantum chromodynamics.

  • The different theories allow different types of strings, and the particles that arise at low energies exhibit different symmetries.


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