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Loose Strings: Pressure mounts to tie string theory to the real world

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By Roger Snodgrass

The Nobel Laureate in Physics introduced his mind-boggling subject in a way that cats and dogs could understand, with a cartoon from the New Yorker.

A middle-aged urban couple are walking down the street and the woman says to the man, "It's all string theory to me."

David Gross, Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara, California proceeded to deliver a progress report on string theory that returned the favor by sounding at times very much like Greek.

This week of advanced science talks at the lab culminated in a lecture by Gross who offered a note of apology about the string theory of reality, to which he has been a major contributor

"It hasn't led to any big observational payoffs," he said.

Among other essential ideas, string theory posits that "at the bottom of it all," all matter and all forces including gravity are made up of extended strings vibrating at different frequencies in multiple dimensions of space and one dimension of time.


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