TECH & SCI­ENCE

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - WITH CHRIS

FOL­LOW­ING on from last week, I’d thought we’d look at a few more weird and wacky con­cepts and hy­pothe­ses sur­round­ing string the­ory.

In the pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, I dis­cussed the idea string the­ory pro­poses that there might in fact be other di­men­sions out­side our abil­ity to per­ceive, and that par­ti­cles in our uni­verse are tied to­gether with other par­ti­cles in th­ese other di­men­sions.

This week we delve into things even fur­ther - brace your­self, things are about to get very strange.

The uni­verse is only a two di­men­sional pro­jec­tion

In 1997, physi­cist Juan Mal­da­cena pro­posed a vari­a­tion on string the­ory: if ev­ery par­ti­cle in the uni­verse is made up of strings, then what if each string ex­ists in only two di­men­sions, yet holds all of the in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary for us to vi­su­al­ize three?

A mod­ern day ex­am­ple of this would be vir­tual re­al­ity video games.

While wear­ing a VR head­set, it cer­tainly looks and feels like you are in­ter­act­ing with a 3D land­scape, but in re­al­ity what you are look­ing at is a two di­men­sional screen - merely a pro­jec­tion.

While the no­tion might, at first es­ti­ma­tion, seem ab­surd, it’s no se­cret that what we per­ceive our sur­round­ings to be - and what they ac­tu­ally are - are two very dif­fer­ent things.

But if the uni­verse truly is just a gi­ant 3D tele­vi­sion, what does that say about us?

Black holes could be por­tals to dif­fer­ent di­men­sions

This par­tic­u­lar con­cept of string the­ory is well trod­den in the sci­ence fic­tion world - space trav­ellers use black holes and worms holes to shoot around space and time in just about ev­ery sci-fi tale out there.

Usu­ally the in­trepid trav­ellers in th­ese tales cross through black hole and wind up in some al­ter­nate his­tory of the world - one where hu­mans in­stead de­vel­oped a com­plex cul­tural struc­ture cen­tred around the de­ifi­ca­tion and wor­ship of a pot plant they re­fer to - in hushed and awestruck tones - as Jim. Or some­thing like that. But the re­al­ity of travers­ing black holes might be even weirder than my ir­repara­bly warped imag­i­na­tion.

In­stead of al­ter­nate his­to­ries, be­ing sucked into a black hole might just land you in­side one or more of the other six di­men­sions pro­posed by hy­po­thet­i­cal ver­sions of string the­ory - wherein the laws of physics are en­tirely dif­fer­ent to our own uni­verse.

An in­ter­di­men­sional, kalei­do­scopic de­struc­tion and re­birth of re­al­i­ties

We’ve all heard of the big bang - the ex­pan­sion of mat­ter, space and time from a sin­gu­lar­ity.

The event from which all of our known uni­verse came into be­ing, giv­ing birth to the gal­ax­ies, stars, plan­ets, and us. It’s all a bit passé if you ask me. The real ques­tion is what hap­pened be­fore there was even a be­fore to be be­fore?

One con­cept of string the­ory seeks to an­swer this ques­tion - and it in­volves hy­po­thet­i­cal ob­jects known as ‘branes’ and a the­ory known as the ‘brane-in­fla­tion’ sce­nario.

Branes, short for mem­branes, are hy­po­thet­i­cal ob­jects that ex­ist on strings them­selves.

Our ob­serv­able uni­verse - con- sist­ing on the three di­men­sions of space and time - is one brane, while brane cos­mol­ogy sug­gests that other brains ex­ist and con­tain other di­men­sions out­side of our ob­serv­able uni­verse.

In the brane-in­fla­tion sce­nario of the ori­gin of our uni­verse, two nearby branes, both ex­pand­ing, were drawn to­gether and an­ni­hi­lated one an­other cre­at­ing a mass of sub­atomic par­ti­cles that co­a­lesced, even­tu­ally form­ing a new brane - our ob­serv­able uni­verse and the di­men­sions it con­tains.

In this brane-in­fla­tion sce­nario, this se­ries of events are cycli­cal and kalei­do­scopic - mean­ing that the uni­verse (s) are de­stroyed and cre­ated in an end­less cas­cade of de­struc­tion and re­birth, with each new uni­verse po­ten­tially gov­erned by a dif­fer­ent set of phys­i­cal laws.

NEW DI­MEN­SIONS: A 2D in­ter­sec­tion of a mul­ti­di­men­sional ob­ject known as the Cal­abi-Yau man­i­fold.

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