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Science Fair

  1. Nov 9, 2003 #1
    I am a freshman in high schoo, and i really want to do something involving string theory. But, I there really isn't much to design a project on because, well, there really hasn't been any experiments to prove or contradict the string theory. So I was wondering if anyone might be able to give me an idea on what to base a science fair project on that involves string theory.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2003 #2
    The mathematics of string theory is pretty complicated, so I wouldn't get your hopes up. Any string theory project would have to involve just calculating something from the theory, since (as you say) there are no experiments. But it's not easy to do calculations in string theory without a lot of mathematics, assuming you want to study the full-blown relativisitc quantum theory of strings.

    Are you good at computer programming? I can think of a string-related numercial calculation that may be within the scope of a talented and ambitious high school student who is also good at programming; unlike most calculations in string theory, it doesn't require a lot of advanced math. (It's been done before, of course, but I guess it's something.)

    However, understanding what the calculation means is quite another matter. It might take a few years for you to learn enough physics and math to comprehend what's really going on. (It doesn't require a lot of math to solve the equations, but it requires more to see where they came from.)

    The project I'm thinking of is non-critical bosonic string theory (e.g. c=1 string theory in a 2D target space). You can study it numerically with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo approximation of the Euclidean path integral for a dynamically-triangulated string worldsheet, coupled to Ising spins tuned to criticality to simulate the conformal field.

    Personally, though, I'd start with something easier ...
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2003
  4. Nov 10, 2003 #3
    That's what I planed on doing. But nothing you can do would be a valid experiment, because you would just be repeating someone else's work. An idea would be to compare LQG and SST, or M-Theory, or F-theory, or twister theory, or the NVT. It would be a demonstration, but they might be impressed on how well you comprehend the subject, or, in a better sense, HOW you comprehend the subject. Because lots of people comprehend SST, but not all people comprehend it correctly. And a little advice, if you were to do this a year ago, it would have been great, but after all these books and popularizations have came out about SST, it's just not as impressive; lots of people will be doing it.
    Paden Roder
  5. Nov 10, 2003 #4
    Somehow, I don't think that, even now, many high school students are going to be doing science fair projects comparing string theory and loop quantum gravity, twistor theory, etc. Understanding the basics of those theories well is something that is beyond most undergraduates.
  6. Nov 11, 2003 #5
    Not technically, I thought for a while that I was one out of a million who actually enjoyed these things (theoretical physics). Sure, people thought I was crazy, but I actually liked learning the BASIC math and concepts of these theories (and their uses). But I have come to find that there are others. Many. Maybe not close to you, but my project on LQG last year did really well, mainly because nobody really knew much about it (in the lamen world), but now ever since these t.v. shows and books have come out about TOE, whatever theory that might entail, kids from all over have been asking me about how they could do an experiment on these things. Actually, to be all honest, I planned on making a trip to Fermilab and help make a new design for a photomultiplier tube, to help on the discovery of proton decay, which theorist say that if strings WERE to be discovered, it would most probably be in proton decay.

    So, WaC-Man, your best bet in an EXPERIMENT, might be in proton decay experiments.
    Paden Roder
  7. Nov 16, 2003 #6
    lol lmfao... mindless freshmens lolllll wanna do strings? albert einstein wannabe? rollllfl.

    can you solve a few cubic equations?
  8. Nov 16, 2003 #7
    Well, the nice thing about being a high school freshman is that you're young and have time to single-mindedly study a subject for years.
  9. Nov 17, 2003 #8
    Second thing, im a sophmore, but that's not the point. I have to at least take calc before I can get to where einstein is, einstien.
    lol. ;)
    You don't have to be einstein to understand basic principles of theoretical physics.

    You don't have to be Bonds to understand basic principles of baseball.

    It's all relative! (on the general scale)
    Paden Roder
  10. Nov 17, 2003 #9

    You need to wait 1000 years before you can reach the mind of Einstein.
  11. Nov 18, 2003 #10
    no.... only 20-40 years, depending on my work ethic.
    Paden Roder
  12. Nov 18, 2003 #11
    ummm, you mean work hard and become einstein? sorry, it's impossible. IN fact, einstein had a different type of "work."
  13. Dec 6, 2003 #12
    What are you guys talking about? what does it have to do with Einstein? he's a freshman, so yes he has the passionateness for string theory and other theoretical frameworks, so it would be only natural for him to have a desire to furnish his knowledge of the subjects, and the project he mulls, is perhaps the ideal way to this goal.

    Cut him some slack guys, come on... :)
  14. Dec 6, 2003 #13


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    Nereid is mulling a project in quantum gravity phenomenology that could be accessible to anyone on this thread. (I can't say because it is his/her proposal and I can't predict how it would go.)

    The proposal is in the "blow to quantum gravity" thread in the Gen Rel part of the Astronomy forum here at PF.

    Phenomenology is not tied to any one theoretical approach but is the business of testing all approaches impartially. One of the world's leading QG phenomenologists is Giovanni Amelino-Camelia.

    If you go to arxiv.org search page and say "phenomenology" or "Amelino" you should get his recent papers talking about how to derive testable predictions from different approaches----comparing
    string with loop with noncommutative geometry with DSR (doubly special relativity), or at least exploring what TESTABLE predictions these various theories might make.

    Nereid thinks that one might be able to run a basic phenomenology test on some theory of QG just using some astronomy data that is openly available on the web (!).

    I find this idea a bold one. I dont see any reason to reject it either. (But at this point I think none of the phenomenologists are getting
    CONCLUSIVE results that finally settle things and cook the goose of one or another theory, they are just warming up to that: narrowing the field down at best, or going thru the motions.)

    If you are interested in trying to check some QG hypothesis with astronomy data, post on that "blow to QG" thread and let Nereid know.

    A side comment: the customary stance for phenomenologists to approach a theory with, at least initially, is "adversarial". The theorist puts up a theory, the phenomenologist calculates testable predictions and tries to falsify the theory or shoot it down or at least narrow down the range of possible parameters. this does not mean they are really bad guys. they do an important, essential job. Without some plan for testing, theory would be just dream castles in the clouds---fairyland---gee whiz salesmanship---whatever, not science as the term is usually understood anyway. So dont let the "adversarial" character turn you off, it is a very constructive line of work and a great help to the theorists by narrowing the possibilities down.

    Nereid seems to know what he/she is doing, so I am waiting to see where it will go.
  15. Dec 9, 2003 #14
    It is the ideal way. But there is no experiment to do as of now. And if he knows the mathematics of SST, then more power to him. Discover something new!
    Paden Roder
  16. Dec 22, 2003 #15
    The thing that I find mindless is you, bashing this kid for being a freshman and wanting to do something that could make him a hell of a lot smarter. Also, before you make fun of someone for their wanting to learn, make sure you learn how to spell.

    Good luck with the project,
  17. Mar 12, 2004 #16
    Actually that *is* how Einstein became Einstein.
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