String theory is an active research
frameworkA conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought. For example, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin used the "hedgehogs" versus "foxes" approach; a "hedgehog" might approach the world in terms of a single organizing...
in
particle physicsParticle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...
that attempts to reconcile
quantum mechanicsQuantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particlelike and wavelike behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...
and
general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
. It is a contender for a
theory of everythingA theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....
(TOE), a manner of describing the known
fundamental forceIn particle physics, fundamental interactions are the ways that elementary particles interact with one another...
s and
matterMatter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...
in a mathematically complete system. The theory has yet to make novel experimental predictions at accessible energy scales, leading some scientists to claim that it cannot be considered a part of
scienceScience is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...
.
String theory mainly posits that the
electronThe electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...
s and
quarkA quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly...
s within an
atomThe atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...
are not 0dimensional objects, but rather 1dimensional oscillating lines ("strings"). The earliest string model, the
bosonic stringBosonic string theory is the original version of string theory, developed in the late 1960s.In the early 1970s, supersymmetry was discovered in the context of string theory, and a new version of string theory called superstring theory became the real focus...
, incorporated only
bosonIn particle physics, bosons are subatomic particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics. Several bosons can occupy the same quantum state. The word boson derives from the name of Satyendra Nath Bose....
s, although this view developed to the
superstring theorySuperstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings...
, which posits that a connection (a "
supersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...
") exists between bosons and fermions. String theories also require the existence of several extra, unobservable dimensions to the universe, in addition to the four known
spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being threedimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...
dimensions.
The theory has its origins in an effort to understand the strong force, the
dual resonance modelIn theoretical physics, a dual resonance model arose the early investigation of string theory as an Smatrix theory of the strong interaction....
(1969). Subsequently five different
superstring theoriesSuperstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings...
were developed that incorporated fermions and possessed other properties necessary for a
theory of everythingA theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....
. Since the mid 1990s, particularly due to insights from
dualitiesString duality is a class of symmetries in physics that link different string theories, theories which assume that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are strings instead of point particles....
shown to relate the five theories, an elevendimensional theory called
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
is believed to encompass all of the previouslydistinct superstring theories.
Many theoretical physicists (e.g.
HawkingStephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...
,
WittenEdward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....
, Maldacena and
SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
) believe that string theory is a step towards the correct fundamental description of nature. This is because string theory allows for the consistent combination of
quantum field theoryQuantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and manybody systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...
and
general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
, agrees with general insights in
quantum gravityQuantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...
(such as the
holographic principleThe holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a lightlike boundary like a gravitational horizon...
and
Black hole thermodynamicsIn physics, black hole thermodynamics is the area of study that seeks to reconcile the laws of thermodynamics with the existence of black hole event horizons...
), and because it has passed many nontrivial checks of its internal consistency. According to
Stephen HawkingStephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...
in particular, "
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
is the
only candidate for a complete theory of the universe." Nevertheless, other physicists (e.g.
FeynmanRichard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...
and
GlashowSheldon Lee Glashow is a Nobel Prize winning American theoretical physicist. He is the Metcalf Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Boston University.Birth and education:...
) have criticized string theory for not providing any quantitative experimental predictions.
Overview
String theory posits that the
electronThe electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...
s and
quarkA quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly...
s within an
atomThe atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...
are not 0dimensional objects, but made up of 1dimensional strings. These strings can oscillate, giving the observed particles their flavor,
chargeIn physics, a charge may refer to one of many different quantities, such as the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. Charges are associated with conserved quantum numbers.Formal definition:...
,
massMass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...
and
spinIn quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...
. String theories also include objects more general than strings, called
branesIn theoretical physics, a membrane, brane, or pbrane is a spatially extended mathematical concept that appears in string theory and related theories...
. The word
brane, derived from "membrane", refers to a variety of interrelated objects, such as
DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989...
s, black pbranes and
Neveu–Schwarz 5braneIn theoretical physics, the NS5brane is a fivedimensional object in string theory that carries a magnetic charge under the Bfield, the field under which the fundamental string is electrically charged....
s. These are extended objects that are charged sources for
differential formIn the mathematical fields of differential geometry and tensor calculus, differential forms are an approach to multivariable calculus that is independent of coordinates. Differential forms provide a better definition for integrands in calculus...
generalizations of the
vector potentialIn vector calculus, a vector potential is a vector field whose curl is a given vector field. This is analogous to a scalar potential, which is a scalar field whose negative gradient is a given vector field....
electromagnetic fieldAn electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction...
. These objects are related to one another by a variety of dualities.
Black holeA black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...
like black pbranes are identified with Dbranes, which are endpoints for strings, and this identification is called Gaugegravity duality. Research on this equivalence has led to new insights on
quantum chromodynamicsIn theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of colorcharged fermions...
, the fundamental theory of the
strong nuclear forceIn particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a noncontact force...
. The strings make closed loops unless they encounter Dbranes, where they can open up into 1dimensional lines. The endpoints of the string cannot break off the Dbrane, but they can slide around on it.
Since string theory is widely believed to be a consistent theory of
quantum gravityQuantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...
, many hope that it correctly describes our universe, making it a
theory of everythingA theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....
. There are known configurations which describe all the observed fundamental forces and matter but with a zero
cosmological constantIn physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...
and some new fields. There are other configurations with different values of the cosmological constant, which are metastable but longlived. This leads many to believe that there is at least one metastable solution which is quantitatively identical with the
standard modelThe Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...
, with a small cosmological constant, which contains
dark matterIn astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is matter that neither emits nor scatters light or other electromagnetic radiation, and so cannot be directly detected via optical or radio astronomy...
and a plausible mechanism for
cosmic inflationIn physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation or just inflation is the theorized extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negativepressure vacuum energy density. The inflationary epoch comprises the first part...
. It is not yet known whether string theory has such a solution, nor how much freedom the theory allows to choose the details.
The full theory does not yet have a satisfactory definition in all circumstances, since the scattering of strings is most straightforwardly defined by a
perturbation theoryIn quantum mechanics, perturbation theory is a set of approximation schemes directly related to mathematical perturbation for describing a complicated quantum system in terms of a simpler one. The idea is to start with a simple system for which a mathematical solution is known, and add an...
. The complete
quantum mechanicsQuantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particlelike and wavelike behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...
of high dimensional branes is not easily defined, and the behavior of string theory in cosmological settings (timedependent backgrounds) is not fully worked out. It is also not clear if there is any principle by which string theory selects its
vacuum stateIn quantum field theory, the vacuum state is the quantum state with the lowest possible energy. Generally, it contains no physical particles...
, the spacetime configuration which determines the properties of our universe (see
string theory landscapeThe string theory landscape or anthropic landscape refers to the large number of possible false vacua in string theory. The "landscape" includes so many possible configurations that some physicists think that the known laws of physics, the standard model and general relativity with a positive...
).
As is the case for any other quantum theory of gravity, it is widely believed that testing the theory directly would require prohibitively expensive feats of engineering. Although direct experimental testing of string theory involves grand explorations and development in engineering, there are several indirect experiments that may support string theory.
Basic properties
String theory can be formulated in terms of an
actionIn physics, action is an attribute of the dynamics of a physical system. It is a mathematical functional which takes the trajectory, also called path or history, of the system as its argument and has a real number as its result. Action has the dimension of energy × time, and its unit is...
principle, either the
NambuGoto actionThe Nambu–Goto action is the simplest invariant action in bosonic string theory, and is also used in other theories that investigate stringlike objects . It is the starting point of the analysis of zerothickness string behavior, using the principles of Lagrangian mechanics...
or the
Polyakov actionIn physics, the Polyakov action is the twodimensional action of a conformal field theory describing the worldsheet of a string in string theory...
, which describes how strings move through space and time. In the absence of external interactions, string dynamics are governed by tension and kinetic energy, which combine to produce oscillations. The
quantum mechanicsQuantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particlelike and wavelike behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...
of strings implies these oscillations take on discrete vibrational modes, the spectrum of the theory.
On distance scales larger than the string radius, each oscillation mode behaves as a different species of particle, with its mass, spin and charge determined by the string's dynamics. Splitting and recombination of strings correspond to particle emission and absorption, giving rise to the interactions between particles.
An analogy for strings' modes of vibration is a guitar string's production of multiple but distinct musical notes. In the analogy, different notes correspond to different particles. The only difference is the guitar is only 2dimensional; you can strum it up, and down. In actuality the guitar strings would be every dimension, and the strings could vibrate in any direction, meaning that the particles could move through not only our dimension, but other dimensions as well.
String theory includes both
open strings, which have two distinct endpoints, and
closed strings making a complete loop. The two types of string behave in slightly different ways, yielding two different spectra. For example, in most string theories, one of the closed string modes is the
gravitonIn physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...
, and one of the open string modes is the
photonIn physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...
. Because the two ends of an open string can always meet and connect, forming a closed string, there are no string theories without closed strings.
The earliest string model, the
bosonic stringBosonic string theory is the original version of string theory, developed in the late 1960s.In the early 1970s, supersymmetry was discovered in the context of string theory, and a new version of string theory called superstring theory became the real focus...
, incorporated only
bosonIn particle physics, bosons are subatomic particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics. Several bosons can occupy the same quantum state. The word boson derives from the name of Satyendra Nath Bose....
s. This model describes, in low enough energies, a
quantum gravityQuantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...
theory, which also includes (if open strings are incorporated as well) gauge fields such as the photon (or, more generally, any
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
). However, this model has problems. Most importantly, the theory has a fundamental instability, believed to result in the decay (at least partially) of spacetime itself. Additionally, as the name implies, the spectrum of particles contains only bosons, particles which, like the photon, obey particular rules of behavior. Roughly speaking, bosons are the constituents of radiation, but not of matter, which is made of fermions. Investigating how a string theory may include
fermionIn particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....
s in its spectrum led to the invention of
supersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...
, a mathematical relation between bosons and fermions. String theories which include fermionic vibrations are now known as
superstring theoriesSuperstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings...
; several different kinds have been described, but all are now thought to be different limits of
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
.
Some qualitative properties of quantum strings can be understood in a fairly simple fashion. For example, quantum strings have tension, much like regular strings made of
twineTwine is a light string or strong thread composed of two or more smaller strands or yarns twisted together. More generally, the term can be applied to any thin cord....
; this tension is considered a fundamental parameter of the theory. The tension of a quantum string is closely related to its size. Consider a closed loop of string, left to move through space without external forces. Its tension will tend to contract it into a smaller and smaller loop. Classical intuition suggests that it might shrink to a single point, but this would violate
HeisenbergWerner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...
's
uncertainty principleIn quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be simultaneously known...
. The characteristic size of the string loop will be a balance between the tension force, acting to make it small, and the uncertainty effect, which keeps it "stretched". Consequently, the minimum size of a string is related to the string tension.
Worldsheet
A pointlike particle's motion may be described by drawing a graph of its position (in one or two dimensions of space) against time. The resulting picture depicts the worldline of the particle (its 'history') in
spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being threedimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...
. By analogy, a similar graph depicting the progress of a
string as time passes by can be obtained; the string (a onedimensional object — a small line — by itself) will trace out a surface (a twodimensional
manifoldIn mathematics , a manifold is a topological space that on a small enough scale resembles the Euclidean space of a specific dimension, called the dimension of the manifold....
), known as the
worldsheetIn string theory, a worldsheet is a twodimensional manifold which describes the embedding of a string in spacetime. The term was coined by Leonard Susskind around 1967 as a direct generalization of the world line concept for a point particle in special and general relativity.The type of string,...
. The different string modes (representing different particles, such as
photonIn physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...
or
gravitonIn physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...
) are surface waves on this manifold.
A closed string looks like a small loop, so its worldsheet will look like a pipe or, more generally, a
Riemann surfaceIn mathematics, particularly in complex analysis, a Riemann surface, first studied by and named after Bernhard Riemann, is a onedimensional complex manifold. Riemann surfaces can be thought of as "deformed versions" of the complex plane: locally near every point they look like patches of the...
(a twodimensional
oriented manifoldIn mathematics, orientability is a property of surfaces in Euclidean space measuring whether or not it is possible to make a consistent choice of surface normal vector at every point. A choice of surface normal allows one to use the righthand rule to define a "clockwise" direction of loops in the...
) with no boundaries (i.e. no edge). An open string looks like a short line, so its worldsheet will look like a strip or, more generally, a
Riemann surfaceIn mathematics, particularly in complex analysis, a Riemann surface, first studied by and named after Bernhard Riemann, is a onedimensional complex manifold. Riemann surfaces can be thought of as "deformed versions" of the complex plane: locally near every point they look like patches of the...
with a boundary.
Strings can split and connect. This is reflected by the form of their worldsheet (more accurately, by its
topologyTopology is a major area of mathematics concerned with properties that are preserved under continuous deformations of objects, such as deformations that involve stretching, but no tearing or gluing...
). For example, if a closed string splits, its worldsheet will look like a single pipe splitting (or connected) to two pipes (often referred to as a
pair of pants — see drawing at right). If a closed string splits and its two parts later reconnect, its worldsheet will look like a single pipe splitting to two and then reconnecting, which also looks like a
torusIn geometry, a torus is a surface of revolution generated by revolving a circle in three dimensional space about an axis coplanar with the circle...
connected to two pipes (one representing the ingoing string, and the other — the outgoing one). An open string doing the same thing will have its worldsheet looking like a ring connected to two strips.
Note that the process of a string splitting (or strings connecting) is a global process of the worldsheet, not a local one: locally, the worldsheet looks the same everywhere and it is not possible to determine a single point on the worldsheet where the splitting occurs. Therefore these processes are an integral part of the theory, and are described by the same dynamics that controls the string modes.
In some string theories (namely, closed strings in Type I and some versions of the
bosonic stringBosonic string theory is the original version of string theory, developed in the late 1960s.In the early 1970s, supersymmetry was discovered in the context of string theory, and a new version of string theory called superstring theory became the real focus...
), strings can split and reconnect in an opposite orientation (as in a
Möbius stripThe Möbius strip or Möbius band is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being nonorientable. It can be realized as a ruled surface...
or a
Klein bottleIn mathematics, the Klein bottle is a nonorientable surface, informally, a surface in which notions of left and right cannot be consistently defined. Other related nonorientable objects include the Möbius strip and the real projective plane. Whereas a Möbius strip is a surface with boundary, a...
). These theories are called
unoriented. Formally, the worldsheet in these theories is a
nonorientable surfaceIn mathematics, orientability is a property of surfaces in Euclidean space measuring whether or not it is possible to make a consistent choice of surface normal vector at every point. A choice of surface normal allows one to use the righthand rule to define a "clockwise" direction of loops in the...
.
Dualities
Before the 1990s, string theorists believed there were five distinct superstring theories: open type I, closed type I, closed type IIA, closed type IIB, and the two flavors of
heterotic stringIn physics, a heterotic string is a peculiar mixture of the bosonic string and the superstring...
theory (SO(32) and
E_{8}×E_{8}In mathematics, E8 is any of several closely related exceptional simple Lie groups, linear algebraic groups or Lie algebras of dimension 248; the same notation is used for the corresponding root lattice, which has rank 8...
). The thinking was that out of these five candidate theories, only one was the actual correct
theory of everythingA theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....
, and that theory was the one whose low energy limit, with ten spacetime dimensions
compactifiedIn physics, compactification means changing a theory with respect to one of its spacetime dimensions. Instead of having a theory with this dimension being infinite, one changes the theory so that this dimension has a finite length, and may also be periodic....
down to four, matched the physics observed in our world today. It is now believed that this picture was incorrect and that the five superstring theories are connected to one another as if they are each a special case of some more fundamental theory (thought to be
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
). These theories are related by transformations that are called dualities. If two theories are related by a duality transformation, it means that the first theory can be transformed in some way so that it ends up looking just like the second theory. The two theories are then said to be dual to one another under that kind of transformation. Put differently, the two theories are mathematically different descriptions of the same phenomena.
These dualities link quantities that were also thought to be separate. Large and small distance scales, as well as strong and weak coupling strengths, are quantities that have always marked very distinct limits of behavior of a physical system in both classical
field theoryA classical field theory is a physical theory that describes the study of how one or more physical fields interact with matter. The word 'classical' is used in contrast to those field theories that incorporate quantum mechanics ....
and quantum
particle physicsParticle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...
. But strings can obscure the difference between large and small, strong and weak, and this is how these five very different theories end up being related. Tduality relates the large and small distance scales between string theories, whereas Sduality relates strong and weak coupling strengths between string theories. Uduality links Tduality and Sduality.
String theories 
Type 
Spacetime dimensions

Details 
Bosonic 
26 
Only bosonIn particle physics, bosons are subatomic particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics. Several bosons can occupy the same quantum state. The word boson derives from the name of Satyendra Nath Bose.... s, no fermionIn particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.... s, meaning only forces, no matter, with both open and closed strings; major flaw: a particleParticle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics... with imaginary mass, called the tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... , representing an instability in the theory. 
I 
10 
SupersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners... between forces and matter, with both open and closed strings; no tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... ; group symmetry is SO(32) 
IIA 
10 
SupersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners... between forces and matter, with only closed strings bound to DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989... s; no tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... ; massless fermionIn particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.... s are nonchiralA chiral phenomenon is one that is not identical to its mirror image . The spin of a particle may be used to define a handedness for that particle. A symmetry transformation between the two is called parity...

IIB 
10 
SupersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners... between forces and matter, with only closed strings bound to DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989... s; no tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... ; massless fermionIn particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.... s are chiralA chiral phenomenon is one that is not identical to its mirror image . The spin of a particle may be used to define a handedness for that particle. A symmetry transformation between the two is called parity...

HO 
10 
SupersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners... between forces and matter, with closed strings only; no tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... ; heterotic, meaning right moving and left moving strings differ; group symmetry is SO(32) 
HE 
10 
SupersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners... between forces and matter, with closed strings only; no tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph... ; heterotic, meaning right moving and left moving strings differ; group symmetry is E_{8}×E_{8}In mathematics, E8 is any of several closely related exceptional simple Lie groups, linear algebraic groups or Lie algebras of dimension 248; the same notation is used for the corresponding root lattice, which has rank 8...

Note that in the type IIA and type IIB string theories closed strings are allowed to move everywhere throughout the tendimensional spacetime (called the
bulk), while open strings have their ends attached to
DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989...
s, which are membranes of lower dimensionality (their dimension is odd — 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 — in type IIA and even — 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8 — in type IIB, including the time direction).
Number of dimensions
An intriguing feature of string theory is that it predicts extra dimensions. In classical string theory the number of dimensions is not fixed by any consistency criterion. However in order to make a consistent quantum theory, string theory is required to live in a spacetime of the socalled "critical dimension": we must have 26 spacetime dimensions for the bosonic string and 10 for the superstring. This is necessary to ensure the vanishing of the
conformal anomalyConformal anomaly is an anomaly i.e. a quantum phenomenon that breaks the conformal symmetry of the classical theory.A classically conformal theory is a theory which, when placed on a surface with arbitrary background metric, has an action that is invariant under rescalings of the background metric...
of the worldsheet
conformal field theoryA conformal field theory is a quantum field theory that is invariant under conformal transformations...
. Modern understanding indicates that there exist lesstrivial ways of satisfying this criteria. Cosmological solutions exist in a wider variety of dimensionalities, and these different dimensions are related by dynamical transitions. The dimensions are more precisely different values of the "effective central charge", a count of degrees of freedom which reduces to dimensionality in weakly curved regimes.
One such theory is the 11dimensional
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
, which requires
spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being threedimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...
to have eleven dimensions, as opposed to the usual three spatial dimensions and the fourth dimension of time. The original string theories from the 1980s describe special cases of Mtheory where the eleventh dimension is a very small circle or a line, and if these formulations are considered as fundamental, then string theory requires ten dimensions. But the theory also describes universes like ours, with four observable spacetime dimensions, as well as universes with up to 10 flat space dimensions, and also cases where the position in some of the dimensions is not described by a real number, but by a completely different type of mathematical quantity. So the notion of spacetime dimension is not fixed in string theory: it is best thought of as different in different circumstances.
Nothing in
MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell of Glenlair was a Scottish physicist and mathematician. His most prominent achievement was formulating classical electromagnetic theory. This united all previously unrelated observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and optics into a consistent theory...
's theory of
electromagnetismElectromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...
or
EinsteinAlbert Einstein was a Germanborn theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...
's
theory of relativityThe theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....
makes this kind of prediction; these theories require physicists to insert the number of dimensions "by both hands", and this number is fixed and independent of potential energy. String theory allows one to relate the number of dimensions to scalar potential energy. Technically, this happens because a
gauge anomalyIn theoretical physics, a gauge anomaly is an example of an anomaly: it is an effect of quantum mechanics—usually a oneloop diagram—that invalidates the gauge symmetry of a quantum field theory; i.e...
exists for every separate number of predicted dimensions, and the gauge anomaly can be counteracted by including nontrivial potential energy into equations to solve motion. Furthermore, the absence of potential energy in the "critical dimension" explains why flat spacetime solutions are possible.
This can be better understood by noting that a
photonIn physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...
included in a consistent theory (technically, a particle carrying a force related to an unbroken gauge symmetry) must be massless. The mass of the photon which is predicted by string theory depends on the energy of the string mode which represents the photon. This energy includes a contribution from the
Casimir effectIn quantum field theory, the Casimir effect and the Casimir–Polder force are physical forces arising from a quantized field. The typical example is of two uncharged metallic plates in a vacuum, like capacitors placed a few micrometers apart, without any external electromagnetic field...
, namely from quantum fluctuations in the string. The size of this contribution depends on the number of dimensions, since for a larger number of dimensions there are more possible fluctuations in the string position. Therefore, the photon in flat spacetime will be massless—and the theory consistent—only for a particular number of dimensions.
When the calculation is done, the critical dimensionality is not four as one may expect (three axes of space and one of time).
The subset of X is equal to the relation of photon fluctuations in a linear dimension. Flat space string theories are 26dimensional in the bosonic case, while superstring and Mtheories turn out to involve 10 or 11 dimensions for flat solutions. In bosonic string theories, the 26 dimensions come from the Polyakov equation. Starting from any dimension greater than four, it is necessary to consider how these are reduced to four dimensional
spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being threedimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...
.
Compact dimensions
Two different ways have been proposed to resolve this apparent contradiction. The first is to
compactifyIn physics, compactification means changing a theory with respect to one of its spacetime dimensions. Instead of having a theory with this dimension being infinite, one changes the theory so that this dimension has a finite length, and may also be periodic....
the extra dimensions; i.e., the 6 or 7 extra dimensions are so small as to be undetectable by present day experiments.
To retain a high degree of supersymmetry, these compactification spaces must be very special, as reflected in their
holonomyIn differential geometry, the holonomy of a connection on a smooth manifold is a general geometrical consequence of the curvature of the connection measuring the extent to which parallel transport around closed loops fails to preserve the geometrical data being transported. For flat connections,...
. A 6dimensional manifold must have SU(3) structure, a particular case (
torsionlessIn differential geometry, the notion of torsion is a manner of characterizing a twist or screw of a moving frame around a curve. The torsion of a curve, as it appears in the FrenetSerret formulas, for instance, quantifies the twist of a curve about its tangent vector as the curve evolves In the...
) of this being SU(3) holonomy, making it a Calabi–Yau space, and a 7dimensional manifold must have
G_{2}In differential geometry, a G2 manifold is a sevendimensional Riemannian manifold with holonomy group G2. The group G_2 is one of the five exceptional simple Lie groups...
structure, with G
_{2} holonomy again being a specific, simple, case. Such spaces have been studied in attempts to relate string theory to the 4dimensional
Standard ModelThe Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...
, in part due to the computational simplicity afforded by the assumption of supersymmetry. More recently, progress has been made constructing more realistic compactifications without the degree of symmetry of Calabi–Yau or G2 manifolds.
A standard analogy for this is to consider multidimensional space as a garden hose. If the hose is viewed from a sufficient distance, it appears to have only one dimension, its length. Indeed, think of a ball just small enough to enter the hose. Throwing such a ball inside the hose, the ball would move more or less in one dimension; in any experiment we make by throwing such balls in the hose, the only important movement will be onedimensional, that is, along the hose. However, as one approaches the hose, one discovers that it contains a second dimension, its circumference. Thus, an ant crawling inside it would move in two dimensions (and a fly flying in it would move in three dimensions). This "extra dimension" is only visible within a relatively close range to the hose, or if one "throws in" small enough objects. Similarly, the extra compact dimensions are only "visible" at extremely small distances, or by experimenting with particles with extremely small
wavelengthIn physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...
s (of the order of the compact dimension's radius), which in
quantum mechanicsQuantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particlelike and wavelike behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...
means very high energies (see waveparticle duality).
Braneworld scenario
Another possibility is that we are "stuck" in a 3+1 dimensional (three spatial dimensions plus one time dimension) subspace of the full universe. Properly localized matter and YangMills gauge fields will typically exist if the subspacetime is an exceptional set of the larger universe. These "exceptional sets" are ubiquitous in Calabi–Yau
nfolds and may be described as subspaces without local deformations, akin to a crease in a sheet of paper or a crack in a crystal, the neighborhood of which is markedly different from the exceptional subspace itself. However, until the work of Randall and Sundrum, it was not known that gravity too can be properly localized to a subspacetime. In addition, spacetime may be stratified, containing strata of various dimensions, allowing us to inhabit a 3+1dimensional stratum  such geometries occur naturally in Calabi–Yau compactifications. Such subspacetimes are
DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989...
s, hence such models are known as
braneworldBrane cosmology refers to several theories in particle physics and cosmology motivated by, but not exclusively derived from, superstring theory and Mtheory.Brane and bulk:...
scenarios.
Effect of the hidden dimensions
In either case, gravity acting in the hidden dimensions affects other nongravitational forces such as electromagnetism. In fact, Kaluza's early work demonstrated that general relativity in five dimensions actually predicts the existence of electromagnetism. However, because of the nature of Calabi–Yau manifolds, no new forces appear from the small dimensions, but their shape has a profound effect on how the forces between the strings appear in our fourdimensional universe. In principle, therefore, it is possible to deduce the nature of those extra dimensions by requiring consistency with the
standard modelThe Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...
, but this is not yet a practical possibility. It is also possible to extract information regarding the hidden dimensions by precision tests of gravity, but so far these have only put upper limitations on the size of such hidden dimensions.
Dbranes
Another key feature of string theory is the existence of Dbranes. These are membranes of different dimensionality (anywhere from a zero dimensional membrane—which is in fact a point — and up, including 2dimensional membranes, 3dimensional volumes and so on).
Dbranes are defined by the fact that
worldsheetIn string theory, a worldsheet is a twodimensional manifold which describes the embedding of a string in spacetime. The term was coined by Leonard Susskind around 1967 as a direct generalization of the world line concept for a point particle in special and general relativity.The type of string,...
boundariesIn topology and mathematics in general, the boundary of a subset S of a topological space X is the set of points which can be approached both from S and from the outside of S. More precisely, it is the set of points in the closure of S, not belonging to the interior of S. An element of the boundary...
are attached to them. Dbranes have mass, since they emit and absorb closed strings which describe
gravitonIn physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...
s, and — in
superstring theoriesSuperstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings...
—
chargeIn physics, a charge may refer to one of many different quantities, such as the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. Charges are associated with conserved quantum numbers.Formal definition:...
as well, since they couple to open strings which describe
gauge interactionsIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
.
From the point of view of open strings, Dbranes are objects to which the ends of open strings are attached. The open strings attached to a Dbrane are said to "live" on it, and they give rise to
gauge theoriesIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
"living" on it (since one of the open string modes is a
gauge bosonIn particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles....
such as the photon). In the case of one Dbrane there will be one type of a gauge boson and we will have an
AbelianIn abstract algebra, an abelian group, also called a commutative group, is a group in which the result of applying the group operation to two group elements does not depend on their order . Abelian groups generalize the arithmetic of addition of integers...
gauge theory (with the gauge boson being the
photonIn physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...
). If there are multiple parallel Dbranes there will be multiple types of gauge bosons, giving rise to a nonAbelian gauge theory.
Dbranes are thus gravitational sources, on which a gauge theory "lives". This gauge theory is
coupledIn physics, two systems are coupled if they are interacting with each other. Of special interest is the coupling of two vibratory systems by means of springs or magnetic fields, etc...
to gravity (which is said to exist in the
bulk), so that normally each of these two different viewpoints is incomplete.
Gaugegravity duality
Gaugegravity duality is a conjectured duality between a quantum theory of gravity in certain cases and
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
in a lower number of dimensions. This means that each predicted phenomenon and quantity in one theory has an analogue in the other theory, with a "dictionary" translating from one theory to the other.
Description of the duality
In certain cases the
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
on the Dbranes is
decoupledIn physics, two systems are coupled if they are interacting with each other. Of special interest is the coupling of two vibratory systems by means of springs or magnetic fields, etc...
from the gravity living in the bulk; thus open strings attached to the Dbranes are not
interactingIn particle physics, fundamental interactions are the ways that elementary particles interact with one another...
with closed strings. Such a situation is termed a
decoupling limit.
In those cases, the Dbranes have two independent alternative descriptions. As discussed above, from the point of view of closed strings, the Dbranes are gravitational sources, and thus we have a gravitational theory on spacetime with some background fields. From the point of view of open strings, the physics of the Dbranes is described by the appropriate gauge theory. Therefore in such cases it is often conjectured that the gravitational theory on spacetime with the appropriate background fields is dual (i.e. physically equivalent) to the gauge theory on the boundary of this spacetime (since the subspace filled by the Dbranes is the boundary of this spacetime). So far, this duality has not been proven in any cases, so there is also disagreement among string theorists regarding how strong the duality applies to various models.
Examples and intuition
The best known example and the first one to be studied is the duality between Type IIB
superstringA string is a hypothetical vibrating onedimensional subatomic structure and one of the main objects of study in string theory, a branch of theoretical physics. There are different string theories, many of which are unified by Mtheory. A string is an object with a onedimensional spatial extent,...
on
AdS^{5} ×
S^{5}
(a product space of a fivedimensional
Anti de Sitter spaceIn mathematics and physics, ndimensional anti de Sitter space, sometimes written AdS_n, is a maximally symmetric Lorentzian manifold with constant negative scalar curvature...
and a fivesphere) on one hand, and
N = 4
supersymmetricIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...
Yang–Mills theory on the fourdimensional boundary of the Anti de Sitter space (either a flat fourdimensional spacetime
R^{3,1} or a three
sphereA sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in threedimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...
with time
S^{3} ×
R). This is known as the
AdS/CFT correspondenceIn physics, the AdS/CFT correspondence , sometimes called the Maldacena duality, is the conjectured equivalence between a string theory and gravity defined on one space, and a quantum field theory without gravity defined on the conformal boundary of this space, whose dimension is lower by one or more...
, a name often used for Gauge / gravity duality in general.
This duality can be thought of as follows: suppose there is a spacetime with a gravitational source, for example an
extremal black holeIn theoretical physics, an extremal black hole is a black hole with the minimal possible mass that can be compatible with a given charge and angular momentum . In other words, this is the smallest possible black hole that can exist while rotating at a given fixed constant speed.The concept of an...
. When particles are far away from this source, they are described by closed strings (i.e. a gravitational theory, or usually
supergravityIn theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...
). As the particles approach the gravitational source, they can still be described by closed strings; alternatively, they can be described by objects similar to
QCD stringIn quantum chromodynamics, , if a connection which is colour confining occurs, it is possible for stringlike degrees of freedom called QCD strings or QCD flux tubes to form...
s, which are made of
gauge bosonIn particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles....
s (
gluonGluons are elementary particles which act as the exchange particles for the color force between quarks, analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles....
s) and other
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
degrees of freedom. So if one is able (in a
decoupling limit) to describe the gravitational system as two separate regions — one (the
bulk) far away from the source, and the other close to the source — then the latter region can also be described by a gauge theory on Dbranes. This latter region (close to the source) is termed the
nearhorizon limit, since usually there is an
event horizonIn general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman's terms it is defined as "the point of no return" i.e. the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible. The most common case...
around (or at) the gravitational source.
In the gravitational theory, one of the directions in spacetime is the radial direction, going from the gravitational source and away (towards the bulk). The gauge theory lives only on the Dbrane itself, so it does not include the radial direction: it lives in a spacetime with one less dimension compared to the gravitational theory (in fact, it lives on a spacetime identical to the boundary of the nearhorizon gravitational theory). Let us understand how the two theories are still equivalent:
The physics of the nearhorizon gravitational theory involves only onshell states (as usual in string theory), while the field theory includes also offshell
correlation functionA correlation function is the correlation between random variables at two different points in space or time, usually as a function of the spatial or temporal distance between the points...
. The onshell states in the nearhorizon gravitational theory can be thought of as describing only particles arriving from the bulk to the nearhorizon region and interacting there between themselves. In the gauge theory these are "projected" onto the boundary, so that particles which arrive at the source from different directions will be seen in the gauge theory as (offshell) quantum fluctuations far apart from each other, while particles arriving at the source from almost the same direction in space will be seen in the gauge theory as (offshell) quantum fluctuations close to each other. Thus the angle between the arriving particles in the gravitational theory translates to the distance scale between quantum fluctuations in the gauge theory. The angle between arriving particles in the gravitational theory is related to the radial distance from the gravitational source at which the particles interact: the larger the angle, the closer the particles have to get to the source in order to interact with each other. On the other hand, the scale of the distance between quantum fluctuations in a
quantum field theoryQuantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and manybody systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...
is related (inversely) to the energy scale in this theory, so small radius in the gravitational theory translates to low energy scale in the gauge theory (i.e. the IR regime of the field theory) while large radius in the gravitational theory translates to high energy scale in the
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
(i.e. the UV regime of the field theory).
A simple example to this principle is that if in the gravitational theory there is a setup in which the
dilatonIn particle physics, a dilaton is a hypothetical particle. It also appears in KaluzaKlein theory's compactifications of extra dimensions when the volume of the compactified dimensions vary....
field (which determines the strength of the
couplingIn physics, two systems are coupled if they are interacting with each other. Of special interest is the coupling of two vibratory systems by means of springs or magnetic fields, etc...
) is decreasing with the radius, then its dual field theory will be
asymptotically freeIn physics, asymptotic freedom is a property of some gauge theories that causes interactions between particles to become arbitrarily weak at energy scales that become arbitrarily large, or, equivalently, at length scales that become arbitrarily small .Asymptotic freedom is a feature of quantum...
, i.e. its coupling will grow weaker in high energies.
Contact with experiment
The mathematics of string theory may lead to new insights on
quantum chromodynamicsIn theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of colorcharged fermions...
, a
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
which is the fundamental theory of the
strong nuclear forceIn particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a noncontact force...
. To this end, it is hoped that a gravitational theory dual to quantum chromodynamics will be found.
A mathematical technique from string theory (the
AdS/CFT correspondenceIn physics, the AdS/CFT correspondence , sometimes called the Maldacena duality, is the conjectured equivalence between a string theory and gravity defined on one space, and a quantum field theory without gravity defined on the conformal boundary of this space, whose dimension is lower by one or more...
) has been used to describe qualitative features of quark–gluon plasma behavior in relativistic heavyion collisions; the physics, however, is strictly that of standard quantum chromodynamics, which has been quantitatively modeled by
lattice QCDLattice QCD is a wellestablished nonperturbative approach to solving the quantum chromodynamics theory of quarks and gluons. It is a lattice gauge theory formulated on a grid or lattice of points in space and time....
methods with good results.
Other potential forms of evidence for string theory have been proposed. One would be the discovery of large cosmic strings in space, formed when the Big Bang "stretched" some strings to astronomical proportions. Other theories, however, predict cosmic strings with a different physical basis (topological defects in various fields). Novel phenomena consistent with versions of string theory may be observed with the newly built
Large Hadron ColliderThe Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highestenergy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....
. One would be indications of an anomalously large strength of gravity on a microscopic scale, which would be consistent with branes interacting across extra dimensions through leakage of gravitons from one to the other. The discovery of
supersymmetryIn particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...
could also be considered evidence since string theory was the first theory to require it, though other theories incorporate supersymmetry as well. The absence of supersymmetric particles at energies accessible to the LHC would not necessarily disprove string theory, since supersymmetry could exist but still be outside the accelerator's range.
Predictability and Testability
Finding a way to confirm string theory with our current technology is a major challenge,
Primarily this is due to the ultraminute size of the
Planck scaleIn particle physics and physical cosmology, the Planck scale is an energy scale around 1.22 × 1019 GeV at which quantum effects of gravity become strong...
, which is expected to be close to the string scale. Another issue is the huge number of metastable vacua which satisfy certain qualitative properties to be a priori candidates to describe our world. Critics argue that these two issues make string theory defacto untestable.
Nevertheless, all string theory models are quantum mechanical, Lorentz invariant, unitary, and contain Einstein's
General RelativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
as a low energy limit. Therefore, to falsify string theory, it would suffice to falsify quantum mechanics, Lorentz invariance, or general relativity. Hence, string theory is falsifiable and meets the definition of scientific theory according to the
PopperianSir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an AustroBritish philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...
criterion.
String harmonics
A unique prediction of string theory is the existence of
string harmonics: at sufficiently high energies—probably near the quantum gravity scale—the stringlike nature of particles would become obvious. There should be heavier copies of all particles corresponding to higher vibrational states of the string. But it is not clear how high these energies are. In the most likely case, they would be 10
^{14} times higher than those accessible in the newest
particle acceleratorA particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in welldefined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...
, the
LHCThe Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highestenergy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....
, making this prediction impossible to test with any particle accelerator in the foreseeable future.
Cosmology
String theory as currently understood makes a series of predictions for the structure of the universe at the largest scales. Many phases in string theory have very large, positive vacuum energy . Regions of the universe that are in such a phase will inflate exponentially rapidly in a process known as eternal inflation. As such, the theory predicts that most of the universe is very rapidly expanding. However, these expanding phases are not stable, and can decay via the nucleation of bubbles of lower vacuum energy. Since our local region of the universe is not very rapidly expanding, string theory predicts we are inside such a bubble. The spatial curvature of the "universe" inside the bubbles that form by this process is negative, a testable prediction . Moreover, other bubbles will eventually form in the parent vacuum outside the bubble and collide with it. These collisions lead to potentially observable imprints on cosmology . However, it is possible that neither of these will be observed if the spatial curvature is too small and the collisions are too rare.
Supersymmetry breaking
A central problem for applications is that the best understood backgrounds of string theory preserve much of the supersymmetry of the underlying theory, which results in timeinvariant spacetimes: currently string theory cannot deal well with timedependent, cosmological backgrounds. However, several models have been proposed to predict supersymmetry breaking, most notably the KKLT model, which incorporates branes and fluxes to make a metastable compactification.
AdS/CFT correspondence
AdS/CFT relates string theory to gauge theory, and allows contact with low energy experiments in
quantum chromodynamicsIn theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of colorcharged fermions...
. This type of string theory, which only describes the strong interactions, is much less controversial today than string theories of everything (although two decades ago, it was the other way around).
Coupling constants
Grand unification natural in string theories of everything requires that the coupling constants of the four forces meet at one point under renormalization group rescaling. This is also a falsifiable statement, but it is not restricted to string theory, but is shared by grand unified theories. The
LHCThe Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highestenergy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....
will be used both for testing AdS/CFT, and to check if the electroweakstrong unification does happen as predicted.
Criticism
Some critics of string theory say that it is a failure as a
theory of everythingA theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....
. Notable critics include
Peter WoitPeter Woit is a Departmental Computer Administrator and Senior Lecturer in Discipline at Columbia University, known for his criticisms of string theory in his book Not Even Wrong, and his blog of the same name.Career:...
,
Lee SmolinLee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo. He is married to Dina Graser, a communications lawyer in Toronto. His brother is David M...
,
Philip Warren AndersonPhilip Warren Anderson is an American physicist and Nobel laureate. Anderson has made contributions to the theories of localization, antiferromagnetism and hightemperature superconductivity. Biography :...
, Sheldon Glashow, Lawrence Krauss, and
Carlo RovelliCarlo Rovelli is an Italian physicist who has worked in Italy, the USA, and France. His work is mainly in the field of quantum gravity. He is among the founders of the Loop Quantum Gravity theory.Life and career:...
. Some common criticisms include:
 Very high energies needed to test quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...
.
 Lack of uniqueness of predictions due to the large number of solutions.
 Lack of background independence.
High Energies
It is widely believed that any theory of
quantum gravityQuantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...
would require extremely high energies to probe directly, higher by orders of magnitude than those that current experiments such as the
Large Hadron ColliderThe Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highestenergy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....
can attain.
However, it may not be necessary to achieve higher than as of yet possible energy needed to test quantum gravity. An alternative testing methodology is being explored called gravity resonance spectroscopy. A recent advancement in that field involves the use of neutrons to avoid problems of electroweak forces interfering with experiments. This is a new direction and viability of the testing method is still tobedetermined.
Due to
naturalnessNaturalness is the property that all parameters appearing in a theory take values of order 1...
, strings themselves are expected to be around the size of the
Planck scaleIn particle physics and physical cosmology, the Planck scale is an energy scale around 1.22 × 1019 GeV at which quantum effects of gravity become strong...
which is twenty orders of magnitude smaller than a proton. Thus, in all likelihood, huge energies would be needed to observe them directly.
Number of solutions
String theory as it is currently understood has a huge number of solutions, called string vacua, and these vacua might be sufficiently diverse to accommodate almost any phenomena we might observe at lower energies.
The vacuum structure of the theory, called the
string theory landscapeThe string theory landscape or anthropic landscape refers to the large number of possible false vacua in string theory. The "landscape" includes so many possible configurations that some physicists think that the known laws of physics, the standard model and general relativity with a positive...
(or the anthropic portion of string theory vacua), is not well understood. String theory contains an infinite number of distinct metastable vacua, and perhaps 10
^{520} of these or more correspond to a universe roughly similar to ours — with four dimensions, a high planck scale, gauge groups, and chiral fermions. Each of these corresponds to a different possible universe, with a different collection of particles and forces. What principle, if any, can be used to select among these vacua is an open issue. While there are no continuous parameters in the theory, there is a very large set of possible universes, which may be radically different from each other. It is also suggested that the landscape is surrounded by an even more vast swampland of consistentlooking semiclassical effective field theories, which are actually inconsistent.
Some physicists believe this is a good thing, because it may allow a natural
anthropic explanationIn astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Some proponents of the argument reason that it explains why the Universe has the age and the fundamental...
of the observed values of
physical constantA physical constant is a physical quantity that is generally believed to be both universal in nature and constant in time. It can be contrasted with a mathematical constant, which is a fixed numerical value but does not directly involve any physical measurement.There are many physical constants in...
s, in particular the small value of the
cosmological constantIn physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...
. The argument is that most universes contain values for physical constants which do not lead to habitable universes (at least for humans), and so we happen to live in the most "friendly" universe. This principle is already employed to explain the existence of life on earth as the result of a lifefriendly orbit around the mediumsized sun among an infinite number of possible orbits (as well as a relatively stable location in the galaxy). However, the cosmological version of the anthropic principle remains highly controversial because it would be difficult if not impossible to
PopperSir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an AustroBritish philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...
falsifyFalsifiability or refutability of an assertion, hypothesis or theory is the logical possibility that it can be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment...
; so many do not accept it as scientific.
Background independence
A separate and older criticism of string theory is that it is backgrounddependent — string theory describes perturbative expansions about fixed spacetime backgrounds. Although the theory has some backgroundindependence — topology change is an established process in string theory, and the exchange of gravitons is equivalent to a change in the background — mathematical calculations in the theory rely on preselecting a background as a starting point. This is because, like many
quantum field theoriesQuantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and manybody systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...
, much of string theory is still only formulated
perturbativeIn quantum mechanics, perturbation theory is a set of approximation schemes directly related to mathematical perturbation for describing a complicated quantum system in terms of a simpler one. The idea is to start with a simple system for which a mathematical solution is known, and add an...
ly, as a
divergent seriesIn mathematics, a divergent series is an infinite series that is not convergent, meaning that the infinite sequence of the partial sums of the series does not have a limit....
of approximations. Although nonperturbative techniques have progressed considerably — including conjectured complete definitions in
spacetimeIn physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space as being threedimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions...
s satisfying certain asymptotics — a full
nonperturbative definition of the theory is still lacking. Some see background independence as a fundamental requirement of a theory of quantum gravity, particularly since
general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
is already background independent. Some hope that
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
, or a
nonperturbative treatment of string theory (such as "background independent open
string field theoryString field theory is a formalism in string theory in which the dynamics of relativistic strings is reformulated in the language of quantum field theory...
") will have a backgroundindependent formulation.
History
Some of the structures reintroduced by string theory arose for the first time much earlier as part of the program of classical unification started by
Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein was a Germanborn theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...
. The first person to add a fifth dimension to
general relativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
was German mathematician
Theodor KaluzaTheodor Franz Eduard Kaluza was a German mathematician and physicist known for the KaluzaKlein theory involving field equations in fivedimensional space...
in 1919, who noted that gravity in five dimensions describes both gravity and electromagnetism in four. In 1926, the Swedish physicist
Oskar KleinOskar Benjamin Klein was a Swedish theoretical physicist.Klein was born in Danderyd outside Stockholm, son of the chief rabbi of Stockholm, Dr. Gottlieb Klein from Homonna in Hungary and Antonie Levy...
gave a physical interpretation of the unobservable extra dimension it is wrapped into a small circle. Einstein introduced a
nonsymmetric metric tensorIn the mathematical field of differential geometry, a metric tensor is a type of function defined on a manifold which takes as input a pair of tangent vectors v and w and produces a real number g in a way that generalizes many of the familiar properties of the dot product of vectors in Euclidean...
, while much later Brans and Dicke added a scalar component to gravity. These ideas would be revived within string theory, where they are demanded by consistency conditions.
String theory was originally developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a never completely successful theory of
hadronIn particle physics, a hadron is a composite particle made of quarks held together by the strong force...
s, the
subatomic particleIn physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...
s like the
protonThe proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....
and
neutronThe neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...
which feel the
strong interactionIn particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a noncontact force...
. In the 1960s,
Geoffrey ChewGeoffrey F. Chew is an American theoretical physicist.He has worked as a professor of physics at the UC Berkeley since 1957 and has been an emeritus since 1991. Chew holds a PhD in theoretical particle physics from the University of Chicago. Between 1950 and 1956, he was a physics faculty member...
and
Steven FrautschiSteven Frautschi is an American theoretical physicist, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He is known for his contributions to the bootstrap theory of the strong interactions....
discovered that the
mesonIn particle physics, mesons are subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction. Because mesons are composed of subparticles, they have a physical size, with a radius roughly one femtometer: 10−15 m, which is about the size of a proton...
s make families called Regge trajectories with masses related to spins in a way that was later understood by
Yoichiro Nambuis a Japaneseborn American physicist, currently a professor at the University of Chicago. Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded a onehalf share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in...
,
Holger Bech NielsenHolger Bech Nielsen is a Danish theoretical physicist, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, at the University of Copenhagen, where he started studying physics in 1961....
and
Leonard SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
to be the relationship expected from rotating strings. Chew advocated making a theory for the interactions of these trajectories which did not presume that they were composed of any fundamental particles, but would construct their interactions from
selfconsistency conditionsIn physics, the term bootstrap model is used for a class of theories that use very general consistency criteria to determine the form of a quantum theory from some assumptions on the spectrum of particles...
on the Smatrix. The
Smatrix approachSmatrix theory was a proposal for replacing local quantum field theory as the basic principle of elementary particle physics.It avoided the notion of space and time by replacing it with abstract mathematical properties of the Smatrix...
was started by
Werner HeisenbergWerner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...
in the 1940s as a way of constructing a theory which did not rely on the local notions of space and time, which Heisenberg believed break down at the nuclear scale. While the scale was off by many orders of magnitude, the approach he advocated was ideally suited for a theory of quantum gravity.
Working with experimental data, R. Dolen, D. Horn and C. Schmid developed some
sum ruleSum rule may refer to:*Sum rule in differentiation*Sum rule in integration*Rule of sum, a counting principle in combinatorics*Sum rule in quantum mechanics...
s for hadron exchange. When a particle and antiparticle scatter, virtual particles can be exchanged in two qualitatively different ways. In the schannel, the two particles annihilate to make temporary intermediate states which fall apart into the final state particles. In the tchannel, the particles exchange intermediate states by emission and absorption. In field theory, the two contributions add together, one giving a continuous background contribution, the other giving peaks at certain energies. In the data, it was clear that the peaks were stealing from the background the authors interpreted this as saying that the tchannel contribution was dual to the schannel one, meaning both described the whole amplitude and included the other.
The result was widely advertised by
Murray GellMannMurray GellMann is an American physicist and linguist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles...
, leading
Gabriele VenezianoGabriele Veneziano, born in Florence, Italy), is an Italian theoretical physicist and the founder of string theory. . Has spent most of his scientific activities at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland...
to construct a scattering amplitude which had the property of DolenHornSchmid duality, later renamed worldsheet duality. The amplitude needed poles where the particles appear, on straight line trajectories, and there is a special mathematical function whose poles are evenly spaced on half the real line the
Gamma functionIn mathematics, the gamma function is an extension of the factorial function, with its argument shifted down by 1, to real and complex numbers...
 which was widely used in Regge theory. By manipulating combinations of Gamma functions, Veneziano was able to find a consistent scattering amplitude with poles on straight lines, with mostly positive residues, which obeyed duality and had the appropriate Regge scaling at high energy. The amplitude could fit nearbeam scattering data as well as other Regge type fits, and had a suggestive integral representation which could be used for generalization.
Over the next years, hundreds of physicists worked to complete the
bootstrap programIn physics, the term bootstrap model is used for a class of theories that use very general consistency criteria to determine the form of a quantum theory from some assumptions on the spectrum of particles...
for this model, with many surprises. Veneziano himself discovered that for the scattering amplitude to describe the scattering of a particle which appears in the theory, an obvious selfconsistency condition, the lightest particle must be a
tachyonA tachyon is a hypothetical subatomic particle that always moves faster than light. In the language of special relativity, a tachyon would be a particle with spacelike fourmomentum and imaginary proper time. A tachyon would be constrained to the spacelike portion of the energymomentum graph...
.
Miguel VirasoroMiguel Angel Virasoro is an Argentine physicist who did most of his work in Italy. The Virasoro algebra is named after him. Together with Giorgio Parisi and Marc Mezard he discovered the...
and Joel Shapiro found a different amplitude now understood to be that of closed strings, while Ziro Koba and
Holger NielsenHolger Bech Nielsen is a Danish theoretical physicist, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, at the University of Copenhagen, where he started studying physics in 1961....
generalized Veneziano's integral representation to multiparticle scattering. Veneziano and
Sergio Fubini Sergio Fubini was an Italian theoretical physicist. He was one of the pioneers of string theory. Politically he engaged himself actively for peace in the Middle East. Biography :...
introduced an operator formalism for computing the scattering amplitudes which was a forerunner of worldsheet conformal theory, while Virasoro understood how to remove the poles with wrongsign residues using a constraint on the states. Claud Lovelace calculated a loop amplitude, and noted that there is an inconsistency unless the dimension of the theory is 26.
Charles ThornCharles Thorn is a Professor of Physics at University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He played an important role in the development of Dual Models and string theory. Among his contributions is the proof of the nonexistence of ghosts in string theory. The Goddard–Thorn theorem is a...
, Peter Goddard and Richard Brower went on to prove that there are no wrongsign propagating states in dimensions less than or equal to 26.
In 1969
Yoichiro Nambuis a Japaneseborn American physicist, currently a professor at the University of Chicago. Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded a onehalf share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in...
,
Holger Bech NielsenHolger Bech Nielsen is a Danish theoretical physicist, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute, at the University of Copenhagen, where he started studying physics in 1961....
and
Leonard SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
recognized that the theory could be given a description in space and time in terms of strings. The scattering amplitudes were derived systematically from the action principle by Peter Goddard,
Jeffrey GoldstoneJeffrey Goldstone is a Britishborn theoretical physicist and an emeritus physics faculty at MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.He worked at the University of Cambridge until 1977....
, Claudio Rebbi and
Charles ThornCharles Thorn is a Professor of Physics at University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He played an important role in the development of Dual Models and string theory. Among his contributions is the proof of the nonexistence of ghosts in string theory. The Goddard–Thorn theorem is a...
, giving a spacetime picture to the vertex operators introduced by Veneziano and Fubini and a geometrical interpretation to the
Virasoro conditionsIn mathematics, the Virasoro algebra is a complex Lie algebra, given as a central extension of the complex polynomial vector fields on the circle, and is widely used in conformal field theory and string theory....
.
In 1970,
Pierre RamondPierre Ramond is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida...
added fermions to the model, which led him to formulate a twodimensional supersymmetry to cancel the wrongsign states. John Schwarz and
André NeveuAndré Neveu is a French physicist working on string theory and quantum field theory who coinvented the NeveuSchwarz algebra and the GrossNeveu model.Neveu studied in Paris at the École normale supérieure...
added another sector to the fermi theory a short time later. In the fermion theories, the critical dimension was 10.
Stanley MandelstamStanley Mandelstam is a South Africanborn theoretical physicist. He introduced the relativistically invariant Mandelstam variables into particle physics in 1958 as a convenient coordinate system for formulating his double dispersion relations...
formulated a world sheet conformal theory for both the bose and fermi case, giving a twodimensional field theoretic pathintegral to generate the operator formalism.
Michio Kakuis an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the cofounder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science...
and Keiji Kikkawa gave a different formulation of the bosonic string, as a
string field theoryString field theory is a formalism in string theory in which the dynamics of relativistic strings is reformulated in the language of quantum field theory...
, with infinitely many particle types and with fields taking values not on points, but on loops and curves.
In 1974,
Tamiaki Yoneyais a physicist. Independently of Joel Scherk and John H. Schwarz, he realized that string theory describes, among other things, the force of gravity. Yoneya has worked on the stringy extension of the uncertainty principle for many years. References :...
discovered that all the known string theories included a massless spintwo particle which obeyed the correct Ward identities to be a graviton. John Schwarz and
Joel ScherkJoël Scherk was a French theoretical physicist who studied string theory and supergravity. Together with John H. Schwarz, he figured out that string theory was a theory of quantum gravity in 1974...
came to the same conclusion and made the bold leap to suggest that string theory was a theory of gravity, not a theory of hadrons. They reintroduced
Kaluza–Klein theoryIn physics, Kaluza–Klein theory is a model that seeks to unify the two fundamental forces of gravitation and electromagnetism. The theory was first published in 1921. It was proposed by the mathematician Theodor Kaluza who extended general relativity to a fivedimensional spacetime...
as a way of making sense of the extra dimensions. At the same time,
quantum chromodynamicsIn theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of colorcharged fermions...
was recognized as the correct theory of hadrons, shifting the attention of physicists and apparently leaving the bootstrap program in the dustbin of history.
String theory eventually made it out of the dustbin, but for the following decade all work on the theory was completely ignored. Still, the theory continued to develop at a steady pace thanks to the work of a handful of devotees. Ferdinando Gliozzi, Joel Scherk, and
David OliveDavid Olive CBE FLSW FRS, is a British theoretical physicist. Olive made fundamental contributions to the string theory and duality theory. He was Professor of physics at Imperial College, London...
realized in 1976 that the original Ramond and Neveu Schwarzstrings were separately inconsistent and needed to be combined. The resulting theory did not have a tachyon, and was proven to have spacetime supersymmetry by John Schwarz and
Michael GreenMichael Boris Green FRS is a British physicist and one of the pioneers of string theory. Currently a professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and a Fellow in Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge in England, he succeeded Stephen Hawking on 1 November 2009...
in 1981. The same year, Alexander Polyakov gave the theory a modern path integral formulation, and went on to develop conformal field theory extensively. In 1979,
Daniel FriedanDaniel Harry Friedan is an American theoretical physicist and is one of two sons of the feminist author and activist Betty Friedan. He earned his Ph.D...
showed that the equations of motions of string theory, which are generalizations of the Einstein equations of
General RelativityGeneral relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...
, emerge from the
Renormalization groupIn theoretical physics, the renormalization group refers to a mathematical apparatus that allows systematic investigation of the changes of a physical system as viewed at different distance scales...
equations for the twodimensional field theory. Schwarz and Green discovered Tduality, and constructed two different superstring theories IIA and IIB related by Tduality, and type I theories with open strings. The consistency conditions had been so strong, that the entire theory was nearly uniquely determined, with only a few discrete choices.
In the early 1980s,
Edward WittenEdward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....
discovered that most theories of quantum gravity could not accommodate
chiralA chiral phenomenon is one that is not identical to its mirror image . The spin of a particle may be used to define a handedness for that particle. A symmetry transformation between the two is called parity...
fermions like the neutrino. This led him, in collaboration with Luis AlvarezGaumé to study violations of the conservation laws in gravity theories with
anomaliesIn theoretical physics, a gravitational anomaly is an example of a gauge anomaly: it is an effect of quantum mechanics–usually a oneloop diagram—that invalidates the general covariance of a theory of general relativity combined with some other fields. The adjective "gravitational" is derived from...
, concluding that type I string theories were inconsistent. Green and Schwarz discovered a contribution to the anomaly that Witten and AlvarezGaumé had missed, which restricted the gauge group of the type I string theory to be SO(32). In coming to understand this calculation, Edward Witten became convinced that string theory was truly a consistent theory of gravity, and he became a highprofile advocate. Following Witten's lead, between 1984 and 1986, hundreds of physicists started to work in this field, and this is sometimes called the first superstring revolution.
During this period,
David GrossDavid Jonathan Gross is an American particle physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of asymptotic freedom. He is currently the director and holder of the Frederick W...
, Jeffrey Harvey,
Emil MartinecEmil John Martinec is an American theoretical physicist born in 1958. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 and obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1984. He spent the last two years of his graduate education at SLAC after his dissertation advisor, Michael Peskin, left...
, and Ryan Rohm discovered heterotic strings. The gauge group of these closed strings was two copies of
E8In mathematics, E8 is any of several closely related exceptional simple Lie groups, linear algebraic groups or Lie algebras of dimension 248; the same notation is used for the corresponding root lattice, which has rank 8...
, and either copy could easily and naturally include the standard model. Philip Candelas, Gary Horowitz,
Andrew StromingerAndrew Eben Strominger is an American theoretical physicist who works on string theory and son of Jack L. Strominger. He is currently a professor at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Society of Fellows...
and Edward Witten found that the CalabiYau manifolds are the compactifications which preserve a realistic amount of supersymmetry, while Lance Dixon and others worked out the physical properties of orbifolds, distinctive geometrical singularities allowed in string theory.
Cumrun VafaCumrun Vafa is an IranianAmerican leading string theorist from Harvard University where he started as a Harvard Junior Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal.Birth and education:...
generalized Tduality from circles to arbitrary manifolds, creating the mathematical field of mirror symmetry.
David GrossDavid Jonathan Gross is an American particle physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of asymptotic freedom. He is currently the director and holder of the Frederick W...
and Vipul Periwal discovered that string perturbation theory was divergent in a way that suggested that new nonperturbative objects were missing.
In the 1990s,
Joseph PolchinskiJoseph Polchinski is a physicist working on string theory. He graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Arizona in 1971, obtained his B.S. degree from Caltech in 1975, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980 under the supervision of Stanley Mandelstam...
discovered that the theory requires higherdimensional objects, called
DbraneIn string theory, Dbranes are a class of extended objects upon which open strings can end with Dirichlet boundary conditions, after which they are named. Dbranes were discovered by Dai, Leigh and Polchinski, and independently by Hořava in 1989...
s and identified these with the blackhole solutions of supergravity. These were understood to be the new objects suggested by the perturbative divergences, and they opened up a new field with rich mathematical structure. It quickly became clear that Dbranes and other pbranes, not just strings, formed the matter content of the string theories, and the physical interpretation of the strings and branes was revealed they are a type of black hole.
Leonard SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
had incorporated the
holographic principleThe holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a lightlike boundary like a gravitational horizon...
of
Gerardus 't HooftGerardus 't Hooft is a Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G...
into string theory, identifying the long highlyexcited string states with ordinary thermal black hole states. As suggested by 't Hooft, the fluctuations of the black hole horizon, the worldsheet or worldvolume theory, describes not only the degrees of freedom of the black hole, but all nearby objects too.
In 1995, at the annual conference of string theorists at the University of Southern California (USC),
Edward WittenEdward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....
gave a speech on string theory that essentially united the five string theories that existed at the time, and giving birth to a new 11dimensional theory called
MtheoryIn theoretical physics, Mtheory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11dimensional theory unites all five string theories...
. Mtheory was also foreshadowed in the work of
Paul TownsendPaul Kingsley Townsend FRS is a British physicist, currently a Professor of Theoretical Physics in Cambridge University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. He is notable for his work on string theory....
at approximately the same time. The flurry of activity which began at this time is sometimes called the second superstring revolution.
During this period,
Tom BanksTom Banks is a theoretical physicist at University of California, Santa Cruz and a professor at Rutgers University. His work centers around string theory and its applications to high energy particle physics and cosmology. He received his Ph.D...
,
Willy FischlerWilly Fischler born in 1949 in Antwerpen, Belgium is a theoretical physicist and string theorist. He is currently the Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is affiliated with the Weinberg theory group.Fischler is, among other things,...
Stephen ShenkerStephen Hart Shenker is an American theoretical physicist who works on string theory. He is a professor at Stanford University and former director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. His brother Scott Shenker is a computer scientist...
and
Leonard SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
formulated a full holographic description of Mtheory on IIA D0 branes, the first definition of string theory that was fully nonperturbative and a concrete mathematical realization of the
holographic principleThe holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a lightlike boundary like a gravitational horizon...
.
Andrew StromingerAndrew Eben Strominger is an American theoretical physicist who works on string theory and son of Jack L. Strominger. He is currently a professor at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Society of Fellows...
and
Cumrun VafaCumrun Vafa is an IranianAmerican leading string theorist from Harvard University where he started as a Harvard Junior Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal.Birth and education:...
calculated the entropy of certain configurations of Dbranes and found agreement with the semiclassical answer for extreme charged black holes.
Petr HoravaPetr Hořava is a Czech string theorist. He is currently a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he frequently teaches courses on quantum field theory and string theory...
and Edward Witten found the elevendimensional formulation of the heterotic string theories, showing that orbifolds solve the chirality problem. Witten noted that the effective description of the physics of Dbranes at low energies is by a supersymmetric gauge theory, and found geometrical interpretations of mathematical structures in gauge theory that he and
Nathan SeibergNathan "Nati" Seiberg is an Israeli American theoretical physicist who works on string theory. He was recipient of a 1996 MacArthur Fellowship and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics in 1998. He is currently a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, USA...
had earlier discovered in terms of the location of the branes.
In 1997 Juan Maldacena noted that the low energy excitations of a theory near a black hole consist of objects close to the horizon, which for extreme charged black holes looks like an
anti de Sitter spaceIn mathematics and physics, ndimensional anti de Sitter space, sometimes written AdS_n, is a maximally symmetric Lorentzian manifold with constant negative scalar curvature...
. He noted that in this limit the gauge theory describes the string excitations near the branes. So he hypothesized that string theory on a nearhorizon extremecharged blackhole geometry, an antideSitter space times a sphere with flux, is equally well described by the lowenergy limiting
gauge theoryIn physics, gauge invariance is the property of a field theory in which different configurations of the underlying fundamental but unobservable fields result in identical observable quantities. A theory with such a property is called a gauge theory...
, the
N=4 supersymmetric YangMills theory. This hypothesis, which is called the
AdS/CFT correspondenceIn physics, the AdS/CFT correspondence , sometimes called the Maldacena duality, is the conjectured equivalence between a string theory and gravity defined on one space, and a quantum field theory without gravity defined on the conformal boundary of this space, whose dimension is lower by one or more...
, was further developed by
Steven GubserSteven S. Gubser is a professor of physics at Princeton University. His research focuses on theoretical particle physics, especially string theory, and the AdS/CFT correspondence. He is a widely cited scholar in these and other related areas....
,
Igor KlebanovIgor R. Klebanov is a theoretical physicist whose research is centered on relations between string theory and quantum gauge field theory. Since 1989, he has been a Professor at Princeton University....
and Alexander Polyakov, and by
Edward WittenEdward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....
, and it is now wellaccepted. It is a concrete realization of the
holographic principleThe holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a lightlike boundary like a gravitational horizon...
, which has farreaching implications for
black holeA black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...
s,
localityIn physics, the principle of locality states that an object is influenced directly only by its immediate surroundings. Experiments have shown that quantum mechanically entangled particles must violate either the principle of locality or the form of philosophical realism known as counterfactual...
and
informationInformation in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...
in physics, as well as the nature of the gravitational interaction. Through this relationship, string theory has been shown to be related to gauge theories like
quantum chromodynamicsIn theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of colorcharged fermions...
and this has led to more quantitative understanding of the behavior of
hadronIn particle physics, a hadron is a composite particle made of quarks held together by the strong force...
s, bringing string theory back to its roots.
See also
 Conformal field theory
A conformal field theory is a quantum field theory that is invariant under conformal transformations...
 Ftheory
Ftheory is a branch of string theory developed by Cumrun Vafa. The new vacua described as Ftheory were discovered by Vafa, and it also allowed string theorists to construct new realistic vacua — in the form of Ftheory compactified on elliptically fibered CalabiYau fourfolds...
 Fuzzballs
Fuzzballs are theorized by some superstring theory scientists to be the true quantum description of black holes. The theory resolves two intractable problems that classic black holes pose for modern physics:...
 List of string theory topics
 Little string theory
In theoretical physics, little string theory is a nongravitational nonlocal theory in six spacetime dimensions that can be obtained as an effective theory of NS5branes in the limit in which gravity decouples. Little string theories exhibit Tduality, much like the full string theory....
 Loop quantum gravity
Loop quantum gravity , also known as loop gravity and quantum geometry, is a proposed quantum theory of spacetime which attempts to reconcile the theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity...
 Relationship between string theory and quantum field theory
Many first principles in quantum field theory are explained, or get further insight, in string theory:* Emission and absorption: one of the most basic building blocks of quantum field theory, is the notion that particles can emit and absorb other particles...
 String cosmology
String cosmology is a relatively new field that tries to apply equations of string theory to solve the questions of early cosmology. A related area of study is brane cosmology ....
 Supergravity
In theoretical physics, supergravity is a field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity. Together, these imply that, in supergravity, the supersymmetry is a local symmetry...
 The Elegant Universe
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory is a book by Brian Greene published in 1999, which introduces string and superstring theory, and provides a comprehensive though nontechnical assessment of the theory and some of its shortcomings...
 Zeta function regularization
In mathematics and theoretical physics, zeta function regularization is a type of regularization or summability method that assigns finite values to divergent sums or products, and in particular can be used to define determinants and traces of some selfadjoint operators...
Popular books and articles
– An interview with
Leonard SusskindLeonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology...
, the theoretical physicist who discovered that string theory is based on onedimensional objects and now is promoting the idea of
multiple universesThe multiverse is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them...
.
 Klebanov, Igor
Igor R. Klebanov is a theoretical physicist whose research is centered on relations between string theory and quantum gauge field theory. Since 1989, he has been a Professor at Princeton University....
and Maldacena, Juan (January 2009). Solving Quantum Field Theories via Curved Spacetimes. Physics TodayPhysics Today, created in 1948, is the membership journal of the American Institute of Physics. It is provided to 130,000 members of twelve physics societies, including the American Physical Society...
.
 Taubes, Gary
Gary Taubes is an American science writer.He is the author of Nobel Dreams , Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion , and Good Calories, Bad Calories , titled The Diet Delusion in the UK and Australia. His book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It was released in December...
(November 1986). "Everything's Now Tied to Strings" Discover Magazine vol 7, #11. (Popular article, probably the first ever written, on the first superstring revolution.) – An easy nontechnical article on the very basics of the theory.
Two nontechnical books that are critical of string theory:
Textbooks
 Becker, Katrin, Becker, Melanie, and John H. Schwarz (2007) String Theory and MTheory: A Modern Introduction . Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521860695
 Binétruy, Pierre (2007) Supersymmetry: Theory, Experiment, and Cosmology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198509547.
 Dine, Michael (2007) Supersymmetry and String Theory: Beyond the Standard Model. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521858410.
 Gasperini, Maurizio (2007) Elements of String Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521868754.
 Michael Green
Michael Boris Green FRS is a British physicist and one of the pioneers of string theory. Currently a professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and a Fellow in Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge in England, he succeeded Stephen Hawking on 1 November 2009...
, John H. Schwarz and Edward WittenEdward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....
(1987) Superstring theory. Cambridge University Press. The original textbook.
 Vol. 1: Introduction. ISBN 0521357527.
 Vol. 2: Loop amplitudes, anomalies and phenomenology. ISBN 0521357535.
 Kiritsis, Elias (2007) String Theory in a Nutshell. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691122304.
 Polchinski, Joseph
Joseph Polchinski is a physicist working on string theory. He graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Arizona in 1971, obtained his B.S. degree from Caltech in 1975, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980 under the supervision of Stanley Mandelstam...
(1998) String Theory. Cambridge University Press.
 Vol. 1: An introduction to the bosonic string. ISBN 0521633036.
 Vol. 2: Superstring theory and beyond. ISBN 0521633044.
 Szabo, Richard J. (Reprinted 2007) An Introduction to String Theory and Dbrane Dynamics. Imperial College Press. ISBN 9781860944277.
 Zwiebach, Barton
Barton Zwiebach is a string theorist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, born in Lima, Perú. His undergraduate work was in Electrical Engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Peru, from which he graduated in 1977.His graduate work was in physics at the...
(2004) A First Course in String Theory. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521831431. Contact author for errata.
Technical and critical:
Online material
– This is a one semester course on bosonic string theory aimed at beginning graduate students. The lectures assume a working knowledge of quantum field theory and general relativity. – Four lectures, presented at the
NATO Advanced Study Institute on Techniques and Concepts of High Energy Physics, St. Croix,
Virgin IslandsThe Virgin Islands are the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean...
, in June 2000, and addressed to an audience of graduate students in experimental high energy physics, survey basic concepts in string theory. – Slides and audio from an Ed Witten lecture where he introduces string theory and discusses its challenges. – Invited Lecture at COSLAB 2004, held at Ambleside, Cumbria, United Kingdom, from 10 to 17 September 2004. – A guide to the string theory literature. – A comprehensive compilation of materials concerning string theory. Created by an international team of students. – A criticism of string theory.
External links
 Dialogue on the Foundations of String Theory at MathPages
 Superstrings! String Theory Home Page – Online tutorial
 CI.physics. STRINGS newsgroup – A moderated newsgroup for discussion of string theory (a theory of quantum gravity and unification of forces) and related fields of highenergy physics.
 Not Even Wrong – A blog critical of string theory.
 Superstring Theory Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
 The Official String Theory Web Site
 The Elegant Universe – A ThreeHour Miniseries with Brian Greene
Brian Greene is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996. Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different CalabiYau manifolds...
by NOVA (original PBS Broadcast Dates: October 28, 810 p.m. and November 4, 89 p.m., 2003). Various images, texts, videos and animations explaining string theory.
 Beyond String Theory – A project by a string physicist explaining aspects of string theory to a broad audience.
 Spinning the Superweb: Essays on the History of Superstring Theory – A Science Studies
Science studies is an interdisciplinary research area that seeks to situate scientific expertise in a broad social, historical, and philosophical context. It is concerned with the history of academic disciplines, the interrelationships between science and society, and the alleged covert purposes...
' approach to the history of string theory (an elementary knowledge of string theory is required).