ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "string theory"

@ScientificAmerican

Physics, Metaphysics and Cosmology Collide in New E-Book, Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse

Possibilities in Parallel: Seeking the Multiverse

Parallel universes are a staple of science fiction, and it’s no wonder. They allow us to explore the question, “What if?” in a way that lets us step completely outside of the world we know, rather than question how that world might have turned out differently. For cosmologists, the question isn’t “What if the South [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Physicists Find a Backdoor Way to Do Experiments on Exotic Gravitational Physics

The whole point of an explanation is to reduce something you don’t know to something you do. By that standard, you don’t gain much by explaining anything in terms of black holes. Appealing to the most mysterious objects known to science as an explanation sounds like using one mystery to explain another. Yet this is [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

When You Fall into a Black Hole, How Long Have You Got?

In chatting with colleagues after a talk this week, Joe Polchinski said he’d love to fall into a black hole. Most theoretical physicists would. It’s not because they have some peculiar death wish or because science funding prospects are so dark these days. They are just insanely curious about what would happen. Black holes are [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

How Do You Count Parallel Universes? You Can’t Just Go 1, 2, 3, …

Cosmologists have been thinking for years that our universe might be just one bubble amid countless bubbles floating in a formless void. And when they say “countless,” they really mean it. Those universes are damned hard to count. Angels on a pin are nothing to this. There’s no unambiguous way to count items in an [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

String Theory in 26 Seconds [Video]

Someone once asked me to describe string theory in 26 seconds, so, a couple of months ago, I went down to Goleta Beach with my iPhone and recorded this little video. It’s kind of spacey, I admit. Soundtrack and dog were entirely unintentional.

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Is Dark Matter a Glimpse of a Deeper Level of Reality?

Two years ago several of my Sci Am colleagues and I had an intense email exchange over a period of weeks, trying to figure out what to make of a new paper by string theorist Erik Verlinde. I don’t think I’ve ever been so flummoxed by physicists’ reactions to a paper. Mathematically it could hardly [...]

Keep reading »
Cross-Check

Physics Titan Edward Witten Still Thinks String Theory “on the Right Track”

Witten: "I hope the landscape interpretation of the universe would turn out to be wrong, as I would like to be able to eventually calculate from first principles the ratio of the masses of the electron and muon (among other things).  However, the universe wasn't made for our convenience."

At a 1990 conference on cosmology, I asked attendees, who included folks like Stephen Hawking, Michael Turner, James Peebles, Alan Guth and Andrei Linde, to nominate the smartest living physicist. Edward Witten got the most votes (with Steven Weinberg the runner-up). Some considered Witten to be in the same league as Einstein and Newton. Witten [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

President Obama Awards National Medals of Science and Technology at the White House

“You have improved our lives in ways that are practical and inspirational,” said President Barack Obama. He saluted the top U.S. researchers with the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government, the National Science and Technology Medals. At the White House ceremony on February 1, he honored 12 winners for the National Medals of Science [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X