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Why only think about strings?

  1. Sep 12, 2011 #1
    Hi all,

    I'm very curious about the current attempts to discover a theory of everything, and therefore naturally trying to understand better what string theory is about.

    One thing I don't understand is why anyone would use the label of 'strings' when we don't yet know what the theory will look like.

    What if reality at the deepest level is represented by mathematical structures of different kinds, perhaps many forms we don't yet have names for? I understand the simplicity and beauty in assuming that it will be exclusively in the form of strings, but isn't that a dangerous assumptions if it leads us away from thinking about other possibilities?

    There must be good reasons for this, unless I'm missing something. Can someone enlighten me?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2011 #2
    Who says that one is only thinking about strings? We know since many years that what was formerly known as string theory contains other entities as well, and in particular 11D M-Theory is not a theory primarily based on strings at all.
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3


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    The reason why people started out with fundamental strings, is because this theory is renormalizable. On top of that, strings give you a symmetry called "conformal symmetry", enabling you to actually do calculations with it.

    But as Surprised said, string theory is much richer than only having strings. String theory also contains objects called "D-branes", which are solutions of the theory describing higher-dimensional objects. And maybe the strings are just an intermediate step to some more fundamental theory.
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