Looking for help understanding string theory

In summary,String theory is a vast topic that may not be fully covered in a grade 9 textbook, but it is still being studied and researched by some of the brightest minds in the field. It has the potential to describe the whole of physics, but is currently controversial because there are many different ways that strings can interact.
  • #1
Physics_is_beautiful
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TL;DR Summary
As a HS student, I just read some content on string theory, and I need help understanding it a little more precisely.
String theory is a vast topic, and no grade 9 book will have content on it. However, no site or video gives it the attention this topic deserves,
please input your understanding of string theory here.
here are a few general questions to think about:
1)What is string theory?
2)Why was it made? (what does it prove/solve?)
3)Why is disregarded nowadays?
 
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  • #2
Physics_is_beautiful said:
TL;DR Summary: As a HS student, I just read some content on string theory, and I need help understanding it a little more precisely.

However, no site or video gives it the attention this topic deserves,
Sorry but you are unlikely to find a worthwhile soundbyte level discussion on Google- level search. Too many unfamiliar balls in the air at one time to get a good grasp. I would recommend getting hold of a popular Science book in a (second hand?) bookshop. But books are expensive and you have to be both prepared and able to get well into them. I doubt that your school maths is enough to get you very far. Wait till you have progressed far enough for Quantum Theory and Relativity to make sense (not the sort of sense that a quick googling will give you).
You need to be aware that there is no real evidence to 'prove' string theory. It's all very esoteric and we don't have high enough energy available to test it ----- yet.
 
  • #3
Physics_is_beautiful said:
String theory is a vast topic, and no grade 9 book will have content on it. However, no site or video gives it the attention this topic deserves, ...
No one text can describe a theoretical field while it is changing under development. The best you can do is to explore, by following the links.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory
 
  • #4
I thought Lisa Randall "Warped Passages" was a good pop-science book in this area. No real Math required.
 
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  • #5
Physics_is_beautiful said:
TL;DR Summary: As a HS student, I just read some content on string theory, and I need help understanding it a little more precisely.

String theory is a vast topic, and no grade 9 book will have content on it. However, no site or video gives it the attention this topic deserves,
Have you spent some time reading the Wikipedia article? The explanations in it range from Basic through Intermediate to more Advanced, but you should be able to get a good start by doing your best to read it through at least one time, and then spending time with the links at the bottom to Further Reading. There is even a "Popular Science" resource listing at the end that you can use to help you find better Basic resources...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory
 
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  • #6
berkeman said:
Have you spent some time reading the Wikipedia article?
Trouble is that it's little more than a list of names for topics and there's very little 'help' there - if indeed it's possible / appropriate for a high school student.
 
  • #7
sophiecentaur said:
Trouble is that it's little more than a list of names for topics and there's very little 'help' there - if indeed it's possible / appropriate for a high school student.
Depends on the HS student, I guess. :wink:

Besides, at least the list of Popular Science resources at the end may be a better list than what you can find with a general Google search.

I read lots of fascinating stuff that I didn't fully understand when I was in HS, and that helped to show me the stuff that I needed to study more in order to get closer to understanding the stuff... :smile:
 
  • #8
The Wiki article may not be the best, but it would at least get the OP started on doing his own legwork, which is in many ways better than "My PF Friends - I have a job for you!"
 
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  • #9
Physics_is_beautiful said:
1)What is string theory?
It is what you get if you try to combine relativity, quantum mechanics, and the hypothesis that the fundamental entities are more than just point particles. Due to mathematical necessity, the resulting theory ends up containing, not just vibrating "strings", but all kinds of blobs called membranes, or "branes" for short, as well as extra dimensions of space.

Physics_is_beautiful said:
2)Why was it made? (what does it prove/solve?)
String theory grew in an unplanned way. Physicists were just trying to understand the world of subatomic particles, for example by writing equations that might describe the behavior of particles. Eventually they tried out the string hypothesis, and slowly discovered that it had the potential to describe the whole of physics.

Physics_is_beautiful said:
3)Why is disregarded nowadays?
String theory is still at the center of research on the mathematical side of physics. It is not disregarded, but it is controversial, because there are trillions of trillions of trillions of ways that strings can interact, and we don't know which, if any of them, describes reality. But hundreds of brilliant people continue to believe in it and work on it.
 
  • #10
Physics_is_beautiful said:
1)What is string theory?
2)Why was it made? (what does it prove/solve?)
3)Why is disregarded nowadays?
Give me 15 minutes online and I could answer all those questions.
 
  • #11
I think it's best we close this thread as the questions engender whole books and lots of math to answer well, and that would be way beyond a simple pop-sci answer that the OP is looking for.

Jedi

Closing now!
 

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