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Does the discovery of the Higgs Boson disprove String Theory?

  1. Jul 4, 2012 #1
    From what I understand, the Higgs Boson was the last missing piece of the Standard Model (12 indivisible particles, 4 forces). Now that the Standard Model is complete, has String Theory been disproved? Is there a conflict between the Standard Model and String Theory?
     
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  3. Jul 4, 2012 #2

    cepheid

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    I'm not expert in the standard model of particle physics or extensions to it, but my understanding is that string theory is meant to act as an *underlying* theory for the standard model of particle physics i.e. one that is more fundamental and explains many of the "why" questions that the standard model raises. For instance, in the standard model we are stuck with four fundamental forces of nature, whereas string theory *unifies* these forces (explains them all in terms of a single underlying theoretical framework). In particular, one of those fundamental forces, gravity (which is explained in terms of general relativity) is unified with the other three, which are explained in terms of quantum mechanics. General relativity and quantum mechanics *are* in conflict in many ways, and one of the goals of string theory is to be a "quantum theory of gravity" that would resolve these conflicts. The standard model of particle physics also contains a whole zoo of elementary particles of various types. Why is there this particular number of particles? Why do they have the particular masses that they do? With the standard model, the answer is just, " because that's the way nature is." But string theory attempts to explain all of these by introducing the idea that all elementary particles are actually made up of a bunch of tiny vibrating strings. So, we have a theory that's trying to unify all the fundamental forces and all the fundamental particles, to explain them all in terms of an underlying phenomenon. For this reason, string theory is often referred to as an attempt at a "theory of everything" (TOE). We don't actually have a complete TOE yet though. Caveat: I can't say much more about this, because I know next to nothing about the actual theory. I'm neither a proponent nor an opponent of string theory. I don't have enough information to hold an informed opinion about it either way.

    So, to answer your question, no, the discovery of the Higgs boson does not disprove string theory (but it does not prove it either). It really has nothing to do with it as far as I know. Furthermore, the standard model of particle physics is not in conflict with string theory. The latter is intended to act as a deeper and more fundamental explanation of the former.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  4. Jul 4, 2012 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Concur with Cepheid - with similar caveat of not being an expert.

    String theory underlies standard model.
     
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