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Test for String Theory Developed 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-dimensions dept.
inexion writes "PhyOrg is reporting that SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) scientists have found a way to test the revolutionary theory, which posits that there are 10 or 11 dimensions in our universe. This past December, Joanne Hewett, Thomas Rizzo, and student Ben Lillie published an article in Physical Review Letters which shows theoretically how to measure the number of dimensions that comprise the universe. By determining how many dimensions exist, Hewett and Rizzo hope to either confirm or repudiate string theory under specific conditions which would consist of creating and examining 'micro-black holes', which could be formed by smashing two high energy protons together. Using the predicted decay properties of the emitted neutrinos, Hewett and Rizzo solved equations to find that our universe may have more than 10 or 11 dimensions -- too many dimensions to be explained by string theory."
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Test for String Theory Developed

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:16PM (#14674708) Journal
    How many micro-black holes have we measured in a lab?

    None.

    How many micro-black holes have we even seen?

    None, as it turns out [wikipedia.org].

    This is a story of hope and speculation--much like the story of super string theory.

    Hell, do we even have the capabilities to smash two high energy protons together?

    To be fair, Bosonic Super string theory has room for 25 [wikipedia.org] dimensions but it's flawed with tachyon, the so called imaginary mass.

    I'd be interested to know how they intend to measure the micro-black holes.
    • >Hell, do we even have the capabilities to smash two high energy protons together?

      Yes, it's routine.
    • by kebes (861706) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:25PM (#14674747) Journal
      Hell, do we even have the capabilities to smash two high energy protons together?

      Well particle accelerators have been smashing high-energy protons together for a long time... but can we smash them hard enough to create micro-black-holes? No. ... not yet, anyways. But that's why the Large Hadron Collider [web.cern.ch] is being built! This is the frontier of particle physics.

      I'd be interested to know how they intend to measure the micro-black holes.

      The LHC has been in the works for a long time, and should come online sometime in 2007. This instrument will be able to probe these questions, and set limits on the possibility of micro-black hole production, as well as extra dimensions.
    • "If scientists were to smash two high energy protons together they could theoretically make such a micro-black hole. This particle decays quickly and emits over a dozen different kinds of particles such as electrons, neutrinos and photons which are easy to detect."

      They hope they decay quickly.
      Bear in mind that all they have to work with right now is theory.

      Anyone else here read "Thrice upon a time" ?
    • I'd be interested to know how they intend to measure the micro-black holes.

      I dunno... Is this kind of treading on the "igniting the atmosphere" kind of problem with A-bombs.

      I mean if make a mini-black hole and drop it on the floor by acident, wouldn't it just absorb more and more mass on the way to the center of the earth.

      I know... I know... You can't "drop" a black hole on the floor... But if you could wouldn't it be neat ;)
      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:38PM (#14674809) Journal
        I mean if make a mini-black hole and drop it on the floor by acident, wouldn't it just absorb more and more mass on the way to the center of the earth.
        I didn't know Ed Wood developed plot lines on Slashdot.
      • Hawking radiation [wikipedia.org] is a very good thing.
      • by kebes (861706) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:45PM (#14674843) Journal
        All black holes emit Hawking radiation [wikipedia.org], which is essentially black-body radiation [wikipedia.org] (the object is trying to come into thermal equilibrium with the rest of the universe, so is emitting/absorbing radiation to do so). The origin of Hawking radiation is vacuum pair production [wikipedia.org], if anyone is interested. This radiation causes the black-hole to slowly "evaporate." The temperature (hence rate of evaporation) is inversely proportional to the black-hole mass (hence size).

        Micro-black-holes are (obviously) very small. Thus, they evaporate very, very quickly. In fact, they are well below the sustainable threshold, and will evaporate much faster than they accumulate new mass. Also note that these micro-black-holes have quite low mass, hence their graviational attraction is pretty much nill. They are "black holes" because their mass density is infinite, and they are thus a singularity, but nothing about "black holes" definitely implies "consumes matter indefinitely" (this only happens for black holes of sufficient size).

        So, no, there is no danger with micro-black-holes eating up the entire Earth. Yes, our current theories may be incorrent (you never know), but if micro-black-holes were able to grow without bound, then you'd expect the universe to be littered with black holes all over the place (which is not the case). Thus there's no reason to worry: the LHC will not gobble up the Earth.
        • by Nikker (749551)
          So, no, there is no danger with micro-black-holes eating up the entire Earth

          Man I'm glad I read this as a /. post I was really worried there for a second....

        • by blamanj (253811)
          Slightly off-topic question. Does vacuum pair production have anything to do with inflation? I've never understood what drives the rapid expansion right after the big bang.
          • No. Inflation is caused by the decay of a scalar field which goes from a higher energy state to a lower one... this releases vast amounts of energy which drives inflation. I think this field is the Higgs field, which gives particles their mass.
            • I love the way you used present tense there to describe an event that occurred within a billionth of a second of the universe coming into existence. Nicely done. :)
          • > I've never understood what drives the rapid expansion right after the big bang.

            Necessity. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. Since the observed universe is incompatible with the big bang cosmology absent an early period of rapid inflation, it was necessary to postulate one in order to prop-up the theory.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, our current theories may be incorrent (you never know), but if micro-black-holes were able to grow without bound, then you'd expect the universe to be littered with black holes all over the place (which is not the case).

          Yeah, there's nothing wrong with guestimated probability, or an understanding of the universe based on an uneducated perception. Hell, what's the worst that could happen, anyway? Tho', who among us would recognize a micro-black-hole if we saw one ...?

          Oh, well. I hereby declare micro-s

        • I'll add that according to current theory, extremely high energy cosmic rays create mini black holes all the time. We've seen these extreme cosmic rays, and we haven't been swallowed up yet, so it's reasonable to conclude that the danger is nonexistent.
        • by Ruie (30480)
          In addition one should not forget that Earth atmosphere gets routinely bombarded by cosmic rays - some of which are very fast protons, much faster than what we can create in the best colliders.

          So if there was a way to create an indefinitely growing black hole with particle collisions this would have happened over the millions of years that Earth has been around.

      • by Jerf (17166)
        What ultimately put my mind at ease with regard to all of these "what ifs" is the recognition that cosmic rays routinely smash into the Earth with energies that we can still only dream of; for instance, see the Oh-My-God particle [fourmilab.ch], an impact event still several orders of magnitude in energy above what we can produce in a lab. If an impact event could produce a black hole that could swallow a planet, the Solar System and indeed the entire universe would be nothing but a bunch of black holes of various sizes o
      • Small black holes actually evaporate due to Hawkings radiation. So they generally dissapear before swallowing the galaxy. Interestingly enough, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy would float on water given its average density.
    • None, but John Titor [johntitor.com] has seen a few in his time.
    • How many micro-black holes have we measured in a lab?

      None.


      I agree about the string theory being, well, just a theory at this stage, but this isn't a sign they aren't there, it's just because we haven't had equipment good enough to experiment at this tiny scale before.

      This statement is similar to how one today can say "how many Earth's have we seen? Not many, it's mostly Jupiter's out there". Of course, that's right, but it doesn't actually mean anything, as we haven't had good equipment to detect Earth-siz
  • by kebes (861706) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:16PM (#14674709) Journal
    The reference for the actual scientific paper in question appears to be:
    "Black Holes in Many Dimensions at the CERN Large Hadron Collider: Testing Critical String Theory" JoAnne L. Hewett, Ben Lillie, and Thomas G. Rizzo Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 261603 (2005) .

    For those with access to PRL, the doi for the paper is: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.95.261603 [doi.org]

    This is the abstract:
    We consider black hole production at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in a generic scenario with many extra dimensions where the standard model fields are confined to a brane. With ~20 dimensions the hierarchy problem is shown to be naturally solved without the need for large compactification radii. We find that in such a scenario the properties of black holes can be used to determine the number of extra dimensions, n. In particular, we demonstrate that measurements of the decay distributions of such black holes at the LHC can determine if n is significantly larger than 6 or 7 with high confidence and thus can probe one of the critical properties of string theory compactifications.
    For those without access to PRL, you can view a different version of the manuscript on arXiv. [arxiv.org]

    My comments (with the usual disclaimer: while I am a scientist, I'm not a particle physicist/string theorist, so I would appreciate any corrections to what I say): This work appears significant. String theory is incredibly elegant and fits in very well with other (experimentally verified) theories (quantum field theory, etc.). However, what string theory has always lacked, is experimental backup. The fact that there may be a way to experimentally test one of its predictions/requirements (that of extra dimensions) is truly significant, and will allow these fundamental theories to be advanced way beyond their current speculative nature.

    As I understand it, one of the current "problems" in string theory is an over-abundance of theories. There are millions (perhaps even an infinite number) of theory-variants that are all consistent with the current string-theory formalism. Of course only one (or possibly zero) of the theories is right. An experimental test would (I hope!) help pick out which theory variant is the right one... or perhaps tell us that string theory is completely wrong! Either way it's a good thing for science and I look forward to this test being performed at the LHC.
    • If this can reduce the infinite field of possible theories by half then we will have made real progress.

      -Peter

      PS: I'm bad at Math.
    • There are millions (perhaps even an infinite number) of theory-variants...

      But is this infinite number countable -- or is it continuous? ;-) Big difference, you know...

      Paul B.
    • i believe that witten showed two classes of these theories to be equivalent. as i recall, it's an open question as to whether all classes are equivalent. kind of the physicist's version of the P?=NP problem as i recall (i am most certainly not a physicist, so feel free to take anything i say with a suitably large grain of salt)
    • by davidoff404 (764733) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:37PM (#14675038)
      String theory is many, many things, but elegant it is not. Furthermore, it doesn't fit in well with other theories simply because we can't get a prediction out of the damn thing.

      This paper is fluff. I read it when it first came out last March and I disagree strongly with the 5 sigma estimate in the test case they describe.

      And yes, IAAStringTheorist.
      • The paper is interesting because, although speculative in many regards, the mechanisms they present would possibly give the dimension of spacetime independent of the validity of string theory. String theorists have never quite looked reality squarely in the eye: you can only derive predictions (in the form of a spectrum) in 1, 2, 4, and 8 dimensions due to some complicated issues in harmonic analysis (it is only in those dimensions that a resolvent exists--associated with the real numbers, complex numbers,
      • by joahewett (953232) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @03:19PM (#14680931)
        Hello - this is my work. The results of the paper have been blown out of proportion all over the web, and I am quite upset about that. However, the results are honest and credible within the model they pertain to. Our statistical calculation is not an "estimate" as you claim, but is the result of a sophisticated Monte Carlo simulation of the process as it appears in the detector at the LHC. Like it or not, this is a 5 sigma measurement at the LHC.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:45PM (#14675083) Homepage
      From a brief perusal of the paper, it looks to me like:
      1. It's talking about highly hypothetical experiments that they imagine could be done at the energies the LHC can reach, not experiments that have actually been done.
      2. It's talking about tests of an unusual version of string theory, in which the extra dimensions aren't curled up as tightly as the Planck scale, and string theory starts to show effects at energies on the order of 1 TeV.
      3. They say the experiment could only disprove string theory, not prove it, and then only if the production of microscopic black holes occurred.
      This all seems pretty unexciting to me as a nonspecialist. I mean, heck, if the LHC starts producing microscopic black holes, then obviously quantum gravity becomes a much more reasonable thing to work on, regardless of whether string theory is right or wrong.

      In addition to string theory's problems with non-uniqueness you refer to, it seems to me that there's also a problem with string theory as a theory of quantum gravity, because it assumes a smooth background spacetime with the 3+1 ordinary dimensions being flat. But that's just not a reasonable way for a theory of quantum gravity to work. In particular, there are strong model-independent reasons [wikipedia.org] for believing that spacetime must be discrete, not continuous, at the Planck scale. So even if string theory could have all its other problems taken care of, it would still not be a good candidate for a fundamental theory of quantum gravity.

      • #They say the experiment could only disprove string theory, not prove it, and then only if the production of microscopic black holes occurred.

        So? Aren't many experiments just like this? The rest of your complaints I can't comment on, but I see nothing wrong with a test that can disprove the theory. If the test fails, we still have very valuable information (stop working on string theory).

      • In particular, there are strong model-independent reasons for believing that spacetime must be discrete, not continuous, at the Planck scale.

        The basis of that argument is that entropy can never decrease. I was always under the impression that entropy is a statistical law: In any given situation there will be some non-determanistic movement, which will randomly disperse some of the energy. Since there are several orders of magnitude more higher entropic states than lower entropic states in any situation,

        • It's true that one possible weak point in the argument is the validity of the second law. It could be that the second law simply fails for quantum gravity. However, some things about black hole thermodynamics have been proved, and proved in a relatively model-independent way, and they seem to point to the idea that the second law remains valid.

          I don't think you're right about the closed system issue, though. Dribbling mass or energy out of the outside world into the black hole should entail an entropy decr

          • All I'm saying in the closed system argument is that this is very obviously a special case: A volume of spacetime where the information contained is greater than a black hole of the same volume could contain. It may well be that there is no differece in what it would take to add enough matter to convert that volume into a black hole than in what it would take to convert any other section of equal volume.

            However, we (as far as I know) can't descibe how to create such a volume or what it would act like once
    • I am not a scientest either, however, I thought all String Theories relied on a 10 dimensional universe... m-Theory (m = Magical, Miracle, but most scientests thing it is m=Membrane) is the one that had 11 dimensions. And when they went back an checked, all the different String Theories actually fit it's model.

      Bill
  • turn into something a bit more substantial than what it is right now, but golly gee whiz, what happens if the the mini black holes don't behave quite exactly like they're supposed to?
  • by jm92956n (758515) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:21PM (#14674722) Journal
    I'm confused.

    Evolutionary "theory," for example, has a substantial quantity of data that suggests the general notion is true. But string theory, at least in the scientific community, does not maintain the same support that most other "theories" have. There are, rather, a number of prominent physisists who believe string "theory" doesn't deserve the theoretical status it has obtained (or at least that's what I've been led to believe).

    The question I have, therefore, how was the "theory" part conferred?

    • isnt anything that is purported to be true as a result of some a mathematical proof a theorem and something that is known to be true but has no proof a postulate(Law)? I would expect it to work in somewhat the same way in physics. a paper demonstrating some sort of reasonable explanation of why establishes a theorem. whether or not that logical proof is sound is another matter. and for something which is difficult to prove experimentally, like string theory and (some would argue)evolution, there is always d
      • > isnt anything that is purported to be true as a result of some a mathematical proof a theorem and something that is known to be true but has no proof a postulate(Law)?

        Notice that "theory" and "theorem" are different words. Theorems arise from applying rules of inferences to sets of axioms (and previously proven theorems).

        In general, the empirical sciences work by induction and hypothesis testing rather than by applying rules of inference to known truths, and thus don't produce theorems.

        As others have p
    • by bunratty (545641) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:39PM (#14674815)
      You may not believe this, but the English language is often ambiguous. Some words have two, three, four, or more meanings. The word theory [google.com] is one of those. One definition of theory is a widely tested and accepted set of principles, as in Einstein's theory of relativity, which gives specific predictions about the universe that have been time and again proven correct to a high degree of accuracy. Another definition of theory is a hypothesis that has not yet been verified, as in string theory, which has not been scientifically verified at all. Yes, this ambiguity causes no end of confusion when one refers to the "theory of evolution". Many of us sit back and chuckle as people refer to it as "just a theory".
      • I always understood "theory" to mean a set of principles or equations to explain phenomena, period.

        If you think of an underlying mechanism that would explain things (whether we're talking scientific measurements or theology or whatever), you have a theory. If your explanation isn't internally consistent, you do NOT have a theory. If your theory doesn't have anything to distinguish it from other theories that could explain the same results, it is "just a theory". If your theory makes predictions which can
    • Unfortunately, there is no official body which confers the moniker "theory" to bodies of work which are deserving. Rather, people just call it that so that's how it's known. It is not a theory in the scientific sense. One should really call it String Hypothesis or String Postulate.

      It is a theory in the mathematical sense similar to Group Theory, Set Theory, or Ring Theory. In mathematics these "theories" really refer to the specific set of axioms assumed. There exist some axioms (well, really, assump

      • >String theory is not falsifiable

        Assume I have very little understanding of string theory. Could you please explain this in more detail; exactly what part and why string theory is not falsifiable.
        • I would assume he is referring to the popular notion that string theory doesn't make any measurable predictions. Since a theory which doesn't make predictions is, by definition, not falsifiable, string theory would therefore qualify as a non-falsifiable theory.

          Of course, saying that string theories don't predict anything is just plain wrong...
          • ....Since a theory which doesn't make predictions is, by definition, not falsifiable, string theory would therefore qualify as a non-falsifiable theory.......

            In that case, this also fits the theory of evolution. Evolution attempts to explain the past, but what predictions does it make of the future than could be checked out by experiment? I'm not taking about breeding or adaptation here, but the jumps from simple organisms to more complex. Even more so, why has nobody yet done by diligent effort what suppos
            • In that case, this also fits the theory of evolution. Evolution attempts to explain the past, but what predictions does it make of the future than could be checked out by experiment?

              You are joking, right? The Theory of Evolution does not "attempt to explain the past" - it attempts to explain how one can get from point A to a later point B. We just happen to have mostly developed and verified the theory by looking at As and Bs that are in the past.

              When one has access to an overwhelming amount of past evidenc
              • one doesn't need to wait the 10s of millions of years necessary to see if it happens again.

                The drawback of only having historical data is that there are quite a few holes in that data (IOW the sampling rate is rather low).
                Using this data we don't get to see evolution in action, we see only the end result of what we assume/theorize must be evolution.
                So in this case, yes we would benefit from 'seeing if it happens again'.
              • Is it? Or is it the astonishing success of religious lunatics getting to them first?

                It amazes me that there is a debate about evolution in school, because it 'is just a theory', meanwhile christians send their children to sunday school from the age of 3 on up, to prevent the possibility of them ever doubting what they are taught. There they are taught that Elijah went to heaven in a chariot of fire (not the theory of the chariot of fire heaven journey) and other fables (like the time a snake talked to eve
            • How about putting one or two, or even a hundred non-life derived chemicals together and making a simple cell or even a virus?

              Uhm, they pretty much have. Scientists have devised simple forms of RNA which replicate themselves in a nutrient bath. This is the simplest form of life in most theories of the advent of life as far as I know, and so your requirement is met and then some.
            • Historical models are inherently unfalsifiable, when falsifiability is restricted to experimentation. The historical element of neo-darwinian evolutionary theory is not refutable by experimentation. It is however, falsifiable, to the degree that it makes predictions about observations, such as phylogenetic biochemical observations, and fossilized natural observations. Basically all of the putative evidences of historical speciation by means of neo-darwinian model mechanisms are not only falsifiable, they
            • what predictions does it make of the future than could be checked out by experiment?

              Here's one: If you expose a microbe to a toxin that does not entirely wipe out the microbe, that microbe will gradually evolve to become resistant to that toxin.

              Like, say, staph and penicillin.

              You can go ahead and run this experiment yourself on non-resistant staph strains; I predict (via the Theory of Evolution) that if you vary the dosage of penicillin until it does not result in a die-off, that any samples you take from t
          1. We will never build a collider with a center of mass at the (4-dimensional, normal) Planck scale.
          2. Given any measurement at low energies, it is possible to construct multiple string theories describing all existing observations. Any new measurement will slightly reduce the set of possible theories, but we will never hit upon a unique solution. Even if we did build a Planck scale collider it is still possible to get multiple string theories. (here I mean theory in the tested, scientific sense)
          3. Recent cl
      • by shawb (16347) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:03PM (#14674911)
        One should really call it String Hypothesis or String Postulate.

        In cases like this, untested ideas about the function of the universe, I personally like the term "model." You can use it to posit the inner workings of the universe and why things happen, but untill the technology is there and the experiments have been run it is not fully a scientific theory. But I believe it does fall within the bounds of model. And the nice thing about this is that with a model, you can make some assumptions that may or may not be true to simply explore how the world would work supposing this is true.

        My favorite correlary is light. We have a model of light behaving as a wave, and that model has been proven to be wrong under certain cirumstances. We have a model of light behaving as a particle, and that model can also be proven wrong under certain circumstances. However, the fact that each model is not completely correct does not mean that they are useless. The basis of the model can be used to make further predictions about the way the world works, or even to produce technology through engineering.
        • Yes it's easier to explore the workings of the universe within the context of a model, but that does not in any way tell you that the model is correct. It's little more than a toy. I am absolutely certain that someone will eventually write down a model within the context of string theory that contains the particles we see. I'm also absolutely certain there will be thousands of others that will eventually be written down that are indistinguishable. This doesn't help us make any predictions in particle ph
      • String theory is not falsifiable and therefore is unlikely to stand the test of time.

        It most certainly is falsifiable - we just don't quite have the technology to test it yet, but by all measures, we appear to be pretty close (hence the article).

        Assuming they produce a mini-blackhole with the LHC, if the observations do not match string theory's predictions, then it will have been falsified. They then need to either throw it out, or take it back to the drawing board.

        • No, if they do not produce a mini-black hole at the LHC, then gravity is not at the scales probed by the LHC. The extra dimensions are a little smaller, or we live confined to a brane.

          That's what I mean by non-falsifiable. For any given conceivable measurement, there is a way to tweak the string theory to get around it. It can be discovered, but it can never be falsified. In this sense it is maximally non-predictive.

          -- Bob

    • >how was the "theory" part conferred?

      There is no governing body that certifies theories. Saying something is a theroy does not specify how certain it is, how close it is to the "truth", how popular it is, how accepted it is within a group, how does it compare to other theories, how close it is being falsified. "Being worthy of academic discussion" is another idea.

      (Some people would be scared because of this, saying that it makes science weak. But it doesn't, because science is about being open to idea
  • I predict (Score:3, Funny)

    by Centurix (249778) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `xirutnec'> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:26PM (#14674751) Homepage
    That when they find out that String Theory is String Fact, they'll find out that the string was placed there to keep the nano-kittens occupied.
    • Awww... that makes me think of Pixel from Heinlein's "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls".

      Pixel is a kitten and walks through walls. Someone said "That's impossible! How does he do that?" and the reply was "Well, he's too young to know it's impossible ... so he just goes ahead and does it anyway!"

      Even though Pixel is nicknamed "Schrodinger's Cat" I'm sure he plays with String Theory too.
    • Would those be Schrodinger's Kittens?
  • It says "under certain conditions." That is, if I read the article correctly, they have equations which say if the micro-black hole decays in a certain way, it will mean there are more than 11 dimensions.

    Of course, if it doesn't decay as they predict, then their test fails and they've proven nothing about string theory. And that's assuming their math is correct.
    • Of course, if it doesn't decay as they predict, then their test fails and they've proven nothing about string theory.

      Wrong. It will prove that there are not more than 11 dimensions. It may provide evidence that there are less, or that there are exactly 11 dimensions as well.

    • by joahewett (953232)
      Hello - this is my work. It has been misrepresented and blown out of proportion and I am quite upset about this. The asterisk means that there are many technical if's, and's, or but's of our analysis which are not explained in the news story. It means that our analysis applies to models of extra dimensions where micro-blackholes can be formed with a size less than the curvature of the additional dimensions and where the fundamental particles which make up our universe do not reside in the extra dimension
  • String? (Score:2, Funny)

    How is string supposed to predict the amount of dimensions? Do they drop it in a black hole and see how far it goes, and use it from that?


    Sincerely, Confused in the Fifteenth Dimension
    • Re:String? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by inexion (903311)
      check this out video [aspweb.cz]
    • Almost certainly the "string" in question here is less of the type used to, say, keep one's shoes laced-up than it is of the "cheese" variety; so-called "String Cheese" is commonly found in both grocery and convenience stores and can easily be split into MANY more "dimensions" than just eleven (my almost-twin three-year-olds regularly split it into dozens...and then split those strings into dozens more... of course then they make an unbelievable mess that causes my wife to terminate the experiment premature
  • This is off topic, but last night I was watching a special on string theory on the science channel - another discovery channel. And while it first seemed interesting, about halfway through it I realized it was almost completely devoid of actual information. Other than cool graphics and bouncing numbers, very little on the theory was actually presented.

    I'm gonna read the article on wikipedia, maybe I'll get some more information.
    • Is it my imagination, or does everything on the Discovery channels in the UK seem to be related to either World War II, hurricanes, tornados, crime, accidents? I haven't been able to find anything related to the latest science news. There used to be Discovery 2000, but maybe that was some time ago. There just doesn't seem to be any sort of weekly science update like a video version of New Scientist.
      • > Is it my imagination, or does everything on the Discovery channels in the UK seem to be related to either World War II, hurricanes, tornados, crime, accidents?

        A few weeks back Jay Leno observed, "This week in 1933, Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany... thus creating The History Channel."
        • I had a history professor who called the History Channel "All Hitler, all the time." I found it very funny when I happened to be watching it one night, when they were talking about the history of building roads... and of course talked about Hitler in conjunction w/ the German autobahnen.
    • Yes, this is called "Television".

      There aren't *any* shows where significant amounts of information are passed. It is one of the limitations of the media.

      On the plus side "Television" is very good at giving you the impression you are learning something, and it is highly addictive.

      (How many people do you know who simply don't have a TV because they don't care for it? Now how many people don't have an X where X is anything else? I will bet dollar for dollar that more people don't have heat in America than d
  • WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:44PM (#14674840) Homepage
    "which would consist of creating and examining 'micro-black holes', which could be formed by smashing two high energy protons together."

    Since when have we been able to create micro-black holes? Man.....screw lightsabers, i want a gun that shoots micro-black holes!

  • by Sundroid (777083) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:46PM (#14674850) Homepage
    From Wikipedia: "String theory is a model of fundamental physics whose building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects (strings) rather than the zero-dimensional points (particles) that are the basis of the Standard Model of particle physics..."

    Here is the article:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory [wikipedia.org]
  • by MSBob (307239) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:09PM (#14674928)
    Question for the theoretical physicists in the slashdot crowd:

    If one day string theory is validated by an actual experiment what consequences will it have for the various interpretations of Quantum Mechanics? Is it going to give more credibility to any one of the interpretations of QM? Or is this a completely orthogonal issue?

    Disclaimer: I know nothing about String Theory but methinks that a true Theory of Everything must provide us with an unambiguous answer for the nature of the collapse of a wavefunction, no?

  • by Sevaur (780102) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @11:15PM (#14674943)
    Peter Woit, a critic of string theory, points out some of the misleading bits in this article on his blog, "Not Even Wrong: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress [columbia.edu] (scroll down for it). A brief discussion of why this isn't quite as exciting as it may sound.

    JoAnne Hewett (one of the original authors) also comments in the blog, saying that the journalists tried to make the work a little more accessible by suppressing important details: As for the headline that is blazened on the SLAC home page - I saw it for the first time when someone drew my attention to it. I knew it was going to cause headaches...

    So while this may be solid work, it doesn't seem quite so sexy as it has been made out to be...
  • Yes, but will string theory prevent Xbox 360s from overheating?
  • by MikShapi (681808) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:14AM (#14675230) Journal
    >> By determining how many dimensions exist, Hewett and Rizzo hope to either confirm or repudiate string theory

    You cannot confirm a theory.
    An experiment can either support it or disprove ("repudiate") it.
  • by tribentwrks (807384) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @01:03AM (#14675397)
    You'd think they'd leave this stuff alone after the "incident" over at the Black Mesa Facility. I think 4 dimensions is plenty for us right now.
  • by Belseth (835595)
    Does it involve two tin cans and buttons? I believes I performed that test some thirty years ago. It acts as a primitive form of cell phone as I remember.
  • Even when string theory was new, it was hardly "revolutionary". It was more like SP17 for an already aging and proplematic physical theory.
  • I knew both Hewett & Rizzo back in the early 80s when I was a physics undergrad at Iowa State -- JoAnne was a few years ahead of me, and Tom was a newly-minted professor, just out of post-doc.

    I remember Tom telling us about supersymmetry (an ancestor of string theory) around 1983. God, I feel old...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, it seems like, as one of the authors of this paper, a few comments are in order.

    The main point is that there are many "ifs", "ands", and "buts" in the paper that did not make it into the news release. Essentially what we showed was that, in a very special set of circumstances it is possible to make a measurement at the LHC which will could possibly determine the number of extra dimensions. If that can be done, then the result will be very important to understanding string theory, since the number of

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