Date: Spring 2012
How would proving M-theory effect how we live and how we perceive what is the Universe?
If M-theory can be proved, and that is a very big “if”, there would probably be very little noticed in our day-to-day lives. M-theory is an elegance that grew out of string theory resulting from observations of our physical world.
Please allow a very brief overview of string theory: Matter and energy could be explained by only the dimension of length, a string with vibratory properties. Vibration in X, Y and Z planes gives the three dimensions and it moves, introducing the fourth dimension, time… all of which are easily quantified.
It is a circular logic: the vibration of the strings determines whether it manifests as matter or energy, and every form of matter or energy results from the vibration of strings.
It was realized that there were open loop strings, closed loop strings, supers strings and others. String theory expanded another six dimensions. The component of super-gravity theory established the existence of an 11th dimension.
The result was five string theories, all appearing to be valid within certain confines. Researchers began to question the complexity of all the theories. Eventually, Edwin Witten and other researchers proposed that the five theories may all be correct… they were actually the same thing being looked at from differing perspectives.
Hence, the development of M-theory; in that the vibratory strings of matter and energy are really 1-dimensional slices of a 2-dimensional membrane vibrating in 11-dimensional space. The theory allows classical physics, relativistic and quantum effects to be expressed and leads to a prospect of a multiverse.
M-theory arises from a set of observations of our Universe as we already perceive it. It is a set of perceptions and realizations that answers many questions and affords mathematical simplicity. However, predictions arising from M-theory to be tested under laboratory conditions may be difficult, if not impossible.
As a scientist, perception of the Universe through M-theory is no doubt richer, more elegant and vastly fascinating. It also lends a provocative intrigue when I strum a chord on my guitar.
Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012