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String Theory: a layman's explanation [joke]

  1. Dec 20, 2006 #1
    If one goes to a bookstore, one can find lots of books about String
    Theory. Unfortunately, many of these books are very difficult to
    comprehend; not everyone has the background necessary to appreciate
    these great works. To satisfy the curiosity of these people, I have
    decided to write this thread. Maybe one day, some bright young lad will
    read this thread and decide to become a string theorist:

    A "string" is a whole lot of bits (ones and zeroes) strung together.
    For instance, 010010001011110 is a string.

    Computers work by manipulating strings of bits. For instance, this
    thread was written on a computer, so it too is a string of bits.

    According to string theory, the laws of the universe can be described
    in terms of strings. So there has to be one string which explains how
    our universe works. String theorists spend their days examining every
    possible string to see if it describes our universe. First, the string
    theorist types into his computer a string of bits, for example,
    When translated into ASCII, this string reads "The universe is a dog."
    If the translation describes the universe correctly, then the string
    theorist has found the grand unified theory of the universe. In our
    example, since the universe is not a dog, the string theorist would
    have to try again typing in another string of bits.

    It is frustrating being a string theorist. Finding the string which
    gives a grand unified theory of the universe is hard work, but we are
    convinced that such a string exists. The mathematics is sound. We just
    don't know which string it is.

    Next week, I plan to give a layman's explanation of astronomy,
    explaining the fundamental law of astronomy: "Twinkle, Twinkle, little

    Ben Zona, PhD
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2006 #2


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    And this is why string theory is currently under fire. The big criticism is that allows for a near-infinite number of predictions of how the universe *could* exist. Since it can't say why *this* universe exists as opposed to any other (such as "the universe is a dog"), it can't be falsified.
  4. Jun 26, 2007 #3
    If everything is 'tied' (past tense) together in string theory---

    shouldn't it be-----'Strung Theory' ?
  5. Nov 17, 2007 #4
    good explanation, if its all correct which i assume is.
    how can there be one string that says what the universe is and how would people comprehend it, cus id imagine its meaningless
  6. Dec 7, 2008 #5
    Why do you say "near-infinite".
    I would think a string would have to be infinite to fit an infinite universe?
    and therefor useless.
  7. Dec 7, 2008 #6
    I'm not sure you realized, but it's a joke.
  8. Dec 8, 2008 #7


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    How do you know the universe is not a dog? Isn't that a possibility by gravity/gauge duality?
  9. Jan 1, 2009 #8
    However, a growing number of theorists suspect that when the string is found, it will be written entirely in an unknown alien language, in UTF-8 Unicode using as-yet-unassigned code points in the reserved planes (yep, that's what they're for). Then it will be the task of the Unicode Consortium to assign the code points correctly in order to begin to decode the string. Unfortunately, the Consortium is already talking about "grand unification"...

    (For those of you who didn't get that punchline: you're not Unicode nerds.)
  10. Jan 26, 2009 #9
    I suppose Xezlec has provided a possible answer, but my question for this theory is in what way is it explained? It is foolish to think it would all come out in English just because that happens to be the language we speak (or I speak) but more importantly is it a mathmatical equation letting you predict every element of chance? Is it a revelation of our universe at its most fundamental level, beyond quarks and charge and the concepts we currently regard to be the basics of reality? Forgive me if anything I just said is ignorant, I am, in fact, still a layman when it comes to physics.
  11. Feb 3, 2009 #10
    I would certainly agree to TheLizardKing(i am also a layman to this subject)
    Physics intrigues many of us, and when you hear of the theory of "everything", how are we to solve all the variables in life?

    And yea, maybe the universe is a dog, and how can we falsify that reason, if it "appears" in one of the trillion strings a scientist is to "confront"

    ~tangled-up physics-lover!~
  12. Apr 8, 2009 #11
    Don't think of the strings as independantly floating through space as if ejected by a giant cosmic amoeba.

    Instead picture them as being emitted from a base, a golden base, and vibrating as they travel outward. Some, or all, of the strings might actually be connected to other strings creating loops.

    Also, it might help to imagine the strings as one dimensional objects that flow back and forth to form higher dimensional objects like a miniature wand drawing a picture. A picture that looks just like our universe.
  13. Apr 21, 2009 #12
    I'm pretty sure this is the string they've been looking for:
  14. Apr 22, 2009 #13
    Have they tried this string?
  15. Oct 4, 2010 #14
    Since the universe is self-evidently deterministic. :devil: It is apparent that English is a reflection of the hidden directionality of linguistics which heads toward truth. It is also self-evidently true that dogs and man have evolved together heading towards the same truth and that

    [tex]man_t + dog_t > man_t[/tex]

    Therefore there is much deep meaning in the phrase: "The universe is a dog."

    It is only when we learn to blend dog-speak with English that we will be capable of understanding the true code of String Theory. I know this because I channel an ancient dog named Nebuchadrover in my spare time.
  16. Oct 4, 2010 #15
    Yes, I tried it. It works. It took me a long time to come up with that string on my own with a little help from Nebuchadrover. Lots of churning on the old noggin, plenty of smoke inhalation, and lots of Deep Thought.
  17. Oct 5, 2010 #16


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    OK, I've checked all strings up to 11 digits with no luck. Not one of them describes the universe. Although a couple came close.

    I'm tired. If anyone wants to take over for a bit, that'd be great.
  18. Oct 5, 2010 #17
    Are you sure you checked Jimmy Snyder's code?

    It worked for me because if you multiply 110 by 1001 you get 101010
  19. Oct 5, 2010 #18


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    And? Does it describe the universe?
  20. Oct 5, 2010 #19
    Well, Douglas Adams said so. That's good enough for me. :wink:
  21. Oct 5, 2010 #20


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    Aaaaahh he got me. Went right over my head. Caught me on the rebound.

    You know, it's my own fault. I took a Jimmy post at face-value. Never take a Jimmy post at face-value.
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