String Theory vs. Superstring theory

In summary, string theory and superstring theory are two names for the same field. Superstring theory, which includes supersymmetry, is more popular and has solved some fundamental problems of the original string theory. Supersymmetry can be achieved through the addition of extra fermionic fields on the world-sheet or through extra fermionic coordinates in space-time. These fermionic dimensions are in addition to the usual extra dimensions in string theory and there is a possibility that they can be derived from extra bosonic dimensions.
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What's the difference between string theory and superstring theory? Are they two different names for the same thing? Which one came first? Which one is more popular?
 
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  • #2
Swapnil said:
What's the difference between string theory and superstring theory? Are they two different names for the same thing? Which one came first? Which one is more popular?

String theory is the generic name for the whole field. It began with Bosonic string theory which was not supersymmetric, and had two shortcomings, it had tachyons in it, faster than light particles that would destabilize the vacuum, and it didn't do fermions, or matter particles, but only bosons, or force carriers. Its shining virtue was that one of the force carriers it did have was identifiable as a graviton, the first time a particle theory had produced a valid account of one.


It was soon discovered that adding the property called supersymmetry solved both the tachyon and the fermion problems, and modern string theory is almost entirely superstrings. It has greatly proliferated, including many things like branes and dualities so that the modern theory is much more detailed and mathematical than the original bosonic theory, which was already more detailed and mathematical than previous particle theories.
 
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  • #3
Swapnil said:
What's the difference between string theory and superstring theory? Are they two different names for the same thing? Which one came first? Which one is more popular?

Supersting theory is more popular because it solves some fundamental problems of the original string theory and creates a symmetry between fermions and bosons.
 
  • #4
selfAdjoint said:
String theory is the generic name for the whole field. It began with Bosonic string theory which was not supersymmetric, and had two shortcomings, it had tachyons in it, faster than light particles that would destabilize the vacuum, and it didn't do fermions, or matter particles, but only bosons, or force carriers. Its shining virtue was that one of the force carriers it did have was identifiable as a graviton, the first time a particle theory had produced a valid account of one.


It was soon discovered that adding the property called supersymmetry solved both the tachyon and the fermion problems, and modern string theory is almost entirely superstrings. It has greatly proliferated, including many things like branes and dualities so that the modern theory is much more detailed and mathematical than the original bosonic theory, which was already more detailed and mathematical than previous particle theories.

But may I know how Supersymmetry was combined with the string theory?
 
  • #5
dimension10 said:
But may I know how Supersymmetry was combined with the string theory?
Do you know the concept in relativity of a world-line? This is a line in space-time which records the history of a point particle - all the locations in space-time that it ever occupies.

The history of a string is a surface in space-time, called a "world-sheet". There are also space and time directions inside the world-sheet. So the world-sheet is like a little two-dimensional space-time, embedded in the n-dimensional space-time that the string is moving through. In the larger space-time, every point on the world-sheet has an n-dimensional position vector. So it's as if there are n fields on the string - on the world-sheet - corresponding to the space-time coordinates that the string is moving through.

When you go to quantum theory, these n fields turn out to be bosonic. But for supersymmetry, you need fermionic fields as well. So there are two ways to achieve supersymmetry for the string. You can postulate extra fermionic fields that are inside the string - defined only on the world-sheet. Or you can postulate extra fermionic coordinates of space-time, alongside the normal space-time coordinates (which will then show up as fermions when you adopt the world-sheet perspective). The superstring can be defined either way - the first way is called Ramond-Neveu-Schwarz formalism, the second way is Green-Schwarz formalism.

You can see Nima Arkani-Hamed talking about extra fermionic coordinates (he calls them "quantum dimensions") in the second half of http://video.ias.edu/arkani-hamed-80th" [Broken]. As he says, it's not like ordinary space dimensions, because it's as if there are only two positions available. You might see the analogy with fermions and bosons here. You can have an arbitrary number of bosons on top of each other - that's analogous to the way that you can keep going in a bosonic direction of space - but fermions exclude each other, and so in each location you only have 0 fermions or 1 fermion.

I should emphasize that these "fermionic dimensions of space" are different from and additional to the usual extra dimensions that you hear about in string theory. You could argue that they are just a formal trick to unify the mathematical treatment of the world-sheet fermions with the bosonic space-time dimensions. The superstring has 10 space-time dimensions plus some fermionic coordinates; the purely bosonic string has 26 space-time dimensions, and I have long been interested in the idea that you might be able to get the superstring from the bosonic string in some way, so that the fermionic dimensions really are derived from 16 extra bosonic dimensions, but no-one knows how to do this and it's not a mainstream idea.
 
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  • #6
mitchell porter said:
Do you know the concept in relativity of a world-line? This is a line in space-time which records the history of a point particle - all the locations in space-time that it ever occupies.

The history of a string is a surface in space-time, called a "world-sheet". There are also space and time directions inside the world-sheet. So the world-sheet is like a little two-dimensional space-time, embedded in the n-dimensional space-time that the string is moving through. In the larger space-time, every point on the world-sheet has an n-dimensional position vector. So it's as if there are n fields on the string - on the world-sheet - corresponding to the space-time coordinates that the string is moving through.

When you go to quantum theory, these n fields turn out to be bosonic. But for supersymmetry, you need fermionic fields as well. So there are two ways to achieve supersymmetry for the string. You can postulate extra fermionic fields that are inside the string - defined only on the world-sheet. Or you can postulate extra fermionic coordinates of space-time, alongside the normal space-time coordinates (which will then show up as fermions when you adopt the world-sheet perspective). The superstring can be defined either way - the first way is called Ramond-Neveu-Schwarz formalism, the second way is Green-Schwarz formalism.

You can see Nima Arkani-Hamed talking about extra fermionic coordinates (he calls them "quantum dimensions") in the second half of http://video.ias.edu/arkani-hamed-80th" [Broken]. As he says, it's not like ordinary space dimensions, because it's as if there are only two positions available. You might see the analogy with fermions and bosons here. You can have an arbitrary number of bosons on top of each other - that's analogous to the way that you can keep going in a bosonic direction of space - but fermions exclude each other, and so in each location you only have 0 fermions or 1 fermion.

I should emphasize that these "fermionic dimensions of space" are different from and additional to the usual extra dimensions that you hear about in string theory. You could argue that they are just a formal trick to unify the mathematical treatment of the world-sheet fermions with the bosonic space-time dimensions. The superstring has 10 space-time dimensions plus some fermionic coordinates; the purely bosonic string has 26 space-time dimensions, and I have long been interested in the idea that you might be able to get the superstring from the bosonic string in some way, so that the fermionic dimensions really are derived from 16 extra bosonic dimensions, but no-one knows how to do this and it's not a mainstream idea.

Thank you!
 
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What is the difference between String Theory and Superstring Theory?

String Theory and Superstring Theory are both theories that aim to explain the fundamental nature of the universe. The main difference between the two is that Superstring Theory is a more advanced version of String Theory, incorporating the concept of extra dimensions.

How many dimensions are involved in String Theory and Superstring Theory?

String Theory proposes that the universe is made up of 10 dimensions, including the three spatial dimensions and one dimension of time. Superstring Theory takes this a step further and suggests that there are actually 11 dimensions, with the extra dimension being curled up and not easily observable.

Which theory is more widely accepted by the scientific community?

Currently, neither String Theory nor Superstring Theory has been proven experimentally, so neither can be considered widely accepted by the scientific community. However, many physicists believe that Superstring Theory holds more promise in explaining the fundamental laws of the universe.

What are the potential implications of proving either String Theory or Superstring Theory?

If either String Theory or Superstring Theory is proven to be true, it would revolutionize our understanding of the universe and potentially lead to new technologies and advancements in physics. It could also help reconcile the discrepancies between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

Are there any other competing theories to String Theory and Superstring Theory?

Yes, there are other theories that aim to explain the fundamental nature of the universe, such as Loop Quantum Gravity and M-Theory. These theories also incorporate the concept of extra dimensions and are competing with String Theory and Superstring Theory in the search for a unified theory of everything.

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