Mind Blown, Science!

Mind Blown- Superstring Theory

Sometimes, instead of blowing your mind, advanced scientific concepts can just feel like they’ve left your brain twisted in knots. That’s right, in this edition of Mind Blown we’re tying up all our loose ends with a cursory examination of string theory.
In eleven entries so far you’ve seen me mention or allude to string theory on more than one occasion, well the time for telling you just what you needed to know to get by is over. We’re going down the rabbit hole people. Hold on tight.
To begin with, forget everything you learned about those pesky little sub-atomic particles in school. They don’t exist in string theory. They’ve been replaced by one-dimensional “strings” thought to be about 10-33 cm small (The Planck length). That’s pretty freaking small. So small in fact that we have no way of seeing these strings and no one predicts a technological remedy for that anytime soon.
What we thought were particles are actually the result of the measurable mass and energy created when these strings vibrate. Varied frequencies of vibration equate to varied manifestations of mass and energy which equates to different behaviors which up to this point were attributed to simply being the different properties of zero-dimensional particles. Still with me?
Think of a string instrument a guitar, bass, violin, whatever. Music is created by vibrating those strings and different frequencies which in turn creates different notes. If you’d only ever heard music and never seen an instrument played you might be forgiven for thinking that all the different notes come from different instruments rather than just the same set of strings strummed and different places along their length.
These unseen strings come in two variations, open and closed. Closed strings are loops with no discernible beginning or end. Open strings are like line segments. Closed strings exist in every version of String Theory but open strings only started gaining popularity in the 1990’s.
String theory is incredibly popular among theoretical physicists. But while many believe it to be the beginnings of a universe-unlocking theory of everything, to date there has been very little experimental data found to support it.
Considering there exist entire doctoral programs that cover this topic you’ll forgive me if I stop here before we go too far past the point of no return. After all, we have to save something for next time. Until then remember that the next time you think someone is pulling your strings, it’s just the universe doing its thing.

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