Science and technology in my mind are only different in natures but not in purposes. Science and technology are both fields that strive to advance human civilizations. Sometimes, technology depends on science to advance, and other times science depends on technology to explore and broaden its missions. Therefore, I think when we take a look into science, we may have take a very first glimpse into the progress of making technology. Personally, I think it’s like a tenacious circle of exploration.
In this article, I like to touch on string theory. Yes, it’s science, but string theory may one day encourage many brilliant minds into creating the kinds of technology that will be out of this world. I’m afraid that day may not be very close at all, because string theory is the theory that is delving into stuffs that are so closely resemble to science fiction. Even some physicists may even consider string theory philosophically, but the mathematics behind string theory are too elegant — elegant enough to convince many physicists that they’re on the right path to discover a unified theory or something much grander.
String theory holds a promise to a future where it can develop into something that may be able to explain how gravity works at the level of quantum mechanics. For centuries, Isaac Newton’s explanation on how gravity worked was the source for everything gravity, but Albert Einstein came along with his general theory of relativity (1916) which changed what we knew about gravity. Unfortunately, Einstein’s theory on gravity cannot explain how things work at the level of quantum mechanics. At such a level, things are extremely small, beyond the eyes can see and touch. Many scientists know the stuffs that make up the atoms are responsible for the stuffs that make up the universe itself. Which means it could be that everything might have been under the influence of one single force. This single force might mask itself as gravity when we’re talking about objects that are large as the size of the planets and golf balls and so on, but it might mask itself as other forces that responsible for holding the smaller stuffs together such as electron and neutron and proton and so on. String theory is so versatile in mathematics that it holds promise of unifying Einstein’s gravity with the forces that work at the quantum mechanics level.
So why is that important? To tell the truth, I’m no expert at all in physics, but from what I understand so far — rather flaky but noble, I think as string theorists attempt to unify the forces together, they come upon on the scenario where string theory itself gives hint to a universe with more than four dimensions. In fact, string theory suggests a universe with 11 dimensions — three regular ones (up/down, left/right, back/forth) plus time equate to four dimensions that we know so well, add that to seven more extra dimensions and string theory becomes perfect in term of mathematics. As physicists suggest, the more dimensions we can interact with, the more we can do. Imagine you are living inside a two dimensional movie screen, but when you step out from the movie screen into the three/four dimensional world, you can do a lot more! For an example, you can explore the extra dimensions — which leads you to drinking coffee in a Starbucks on some street and not inside a movie screen. Will that make you a human? What if you travel into the fifth and the sixth dimensions and so on, what will that make you? You get the gist!
To explore the extra dimensions that string theory suggests, it will take more than science fiction type of technology for us to do so. For now, we are content with such bizarre but intrigue possibilities. String theory isn’t done yet, because it has more. String theory suggests something even more outlandish such as there may be many parallel worlds out there. OK, I think I have to read more on this before I can explain to you, but if you don’t want to wait on me, you can check out the fantastic explanation on string theory in details from the film clips that I’ve found on YouTube right after the break.
Image by Vikram-the Prodigal Fotografer. Acquire the image on Flickr.com with creative common license. The source of image is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikram_prodigal_fotographer/3275550679/.