Princeton physicists connect string theory with established physics
Date: Sunday, May 06, 2007 @ 22:29:57 GMT
String theory, simultaneously one of the most promising and
controversial ideas in modern physics, may be more capable of helping
probe the inner workings of subatomic particles than was previously
thought, according to a team of Princeton University scientists.
The theory has been
highly praised by some physicists for its potential to forge the
long-sought link between gravity and the forces that dominate within
the atomic nucleus. But the theory -- which posits that all subatomic
particles are actually tiny "strings" that vibrate in different ways --
has also drawn criticism for being untestable in the laboratory, and
perhaps impossible to connect with real-world phenomena.
However, the Princeton
researchers have found new mathematical evidence that some of string
theory's predictions mesh closely with those of a well-respected body
of physics called "gauge theory," which has been demonstrated to
underlie the interactions among quarks and gluons, the vanishingly
small objects that combine to form protons, neutrons and other, more
exotic subatomic particles. The discovery, say the physicists, could
open up a host of uses for string theory in attacking practical physics
"These problems include describing the interactions among the
quarks within everyday atomic nuclei," said Igor Klebanov, the Thomas
D. Jones Professor of Mathematical Physics at Princeton and an author
of a recent paper on the subject. "We have previously been able to
study these interactions in detail only at the high-energy conditions
within particle accelerators, but with these findings we may be able to
describe what's happening inside the atoms that make up rocks and
trees. We cannot do so yet, but it appears that the math of string
theory could be what we need to bridge this gap."
The team's paper appears in the March 30 issue of the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Klebanov's co-authors include graduate student Marcus Benna and
postdoctoral fellows Sergio Benvenuti and Antonello Scardicchio...