Thursday, April 09, 2009

Superstring Theory

I'm not a physicist, not even close. I am tempted to learn more math just so I can try to wrap my mind a little further around some of the theories out there. At this point though I'm stuck reading the popularizations, I read "Search for Schrödinger's Cat" a while back and now I'm working on "The Elegant Universe." Ironically I bought both of these at a local used book store, thats not ironic, what is ironic is the fact that it's run by fairly fundamentalist christians. I always wondered why the christian section was right at the front of the store, the science being all the way at the back, then again its a very small store. I found out for sure when I ran into a co-worker, the fundie one, and she was talking to the owners, who go to her church. Ah... Anyway back to the shit that matters.

String theory. Crazy shit. Then again once you understand the old theory (and I'm only half sure I do) it isn't that weird. The old theory was that everything is made of 0-dimensional points. That alone is pretty much impossible for me to really grasp. How can it exist yet have no dimensions? So string theory say's no everything is made of one dimensional things, seeing as their one dimensional, they're string like. Of course then these one dimensional strings turn into loops yet somehow that doesn't count as two dimensions. (?) For whatever reason I can just smile and nod through these parts.

The biggest problem I had with it, and again maybe I'm reading it totally wrong not to mention I'm only halfway through the book, is this. Ok everytime we find out that our elementary elements were wrong there was more than one thing below. We thought Atoms were the smallest thing for a long time. Then we found out that all the different types of atoms are made of various combinations of just three things, atoms proton and neutrons. The simplest of which of course has one electron and one proton, the other end has 92 electrons 92 protons and 146 neutrons, ok some get even bigger but on earth uranium is as big as you can expect to find. you get the point anyway. Well then we found out that protons and neutrons aren't even elementary elements, they can be crushed further into several types of quarks. Same book different chapter, neutrons are one arrangement of quarks and protons are a different arrangement, if I recall right each is made of three quarks. So then it's supposed to be a few orders of magnification later and we find strings. And what I had assumed was that considering I've previously heard that the difference in size between an atom and a string is about the same as the difference between an atom and the galaxy. So logically, and I guess I should by now know that what we consider logical on the macro scale has no meaning at this point, I was expecting a whole shit load of strings to make up a quark. Or at least a few. And with all the uncertainty stuff I was expecting all the strings in each quark to being doing its own thing at any given time and only by canceling each other out and does it average out to what we see as a quark. On the up side, reading this stuff does give you the opportunity to say Quark a lot, and Quark is probably the most amusing word to say that I've ever said. You know you want to. Just say it out loud a few times wherever you are, Quark Quark Quark. Nah bitch I'm not a duck don't be simple, this is cutting edge science I'm talking about... try not to giggle at any point in there.

Oh so my problem other than getting funny looks by people who think I have a fetish for ducks is that the book claims there is just one string. Now I realized a long time ago that the entire universe is made up of alomst nothing, but damn. Thats a whole lot of nothing. Again I very well might be reading this wrong, it was fairly late and my brain was probably a little fried after reading half the book yesterday. But if my conclusion is right that would mean that an atom the size of the galaxy is made up of just a like a dozen atom sized strings... Like I said, damn, thats a lot of nothing. I should probably just go ask someone who knows about this shit. I might have to drop a question over at Bad Astronomy.