Essay: Michio Kaku Beyond Einstein

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Kaku

A classic popular science text on the tenets, concepts, and contexts surrounding string theories and unified field theory, Kaku's Beyond Einstein draws the reader's attention to prevailing thought in theoretical physics. Kaku claims that unified field theory is "comprehensive," and can provide predictions "concerning the origin of the universe, the beginning of time, and the existence of multidimensional universes," (4). Although Kaku comes dangerously close to providing a religious worldview within scientific terminology, unified field theory has stood the tests of scientific, mathematical, and critical rigor.

String theory in part seeks to unify Einstein's theory of general relativity and quantum or particle physics. Thus, Beyond Einstein shows how string theory builds on Einstein without discarding the theory of relativity. Einstein's theory of relativity focuses mainly on the force of gravity. Yet as Kaku points out, gravity is only one of the four forces of the universe. The other three include electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force. Rather than view these four forces -- or any others that may exist -- as separate and distinct, string theory offers a unified solution. A string is like a guitar string. It vibrates, and has the potential to create potentially infinite number of "tones." Those tones will include the manifestation of matter as well as any other noticeable effect. According to string theory, matter itself is comprised not only of its visible and measurable electromagnetic particles but also of the one-dimensional strings. Matter is therefore particles in different modes of vibration, and the nature of matter will change depending on the vibration of the string.

Furthermore, string theory encompasses multiple dimensions. At least ten dimensions have been posited. Strings would exist on the first dimension, lines and planes on the second, space on the third, and time on the fourth. String theory goes beyond time. Dimensions are measurable, and have geometric shapes. Those shapes determine the behavior of a string when it vibrates in that dimension. Thus, gravity behaves differently in different dimensions. If the geometric features of a dimension are known, then predictions can be made about the behavior or manifestations of matter and energy (Greene). The problem with string theory as of yet may lie with the human brain itself. The brain struggles with conceptualizing even the fourth dimension, let alone a further seven or ten more. Computer programs have been able to aid physicists with visualizing the geometry of further dimensions, with current research revealing about ten (Groleau).

Greene notes that Einstein was actually the first to provide a unified theory, in that Einstein's theory of relativity unifies space and time within the context of gravitational force. General relativity presents reality along four dimensions, as a sort of fabric. The fabric can shift and undulate. String theory takes relativity a step further in recognizing the strings that make up Einstein's fabric, and also by helping unify general relativity with all other foundational theories. The primary means by which string theory has achieved its goal of unification has been through mathematical proofs, but the true Holy Grail would be scientific, measurable evidence. Strings are about "a quintillion times smaller than the already infinitesimal hydrogen atom," ("Scientists Find a Practical Test for String Theory."). Even without the ability to measure strings, physicists have presented testable and provable mathematical formulas for hypothetical particles like the graviton. Like many other calculations in physics and especially astrophysics, there will be heavy reliance on math but with sufficient reliance on known variables to encourage proof.

String theory has been criticized for its lack of tangibles, and for the fact that physicists have come up with a glut of new theories failing to offer the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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