When scientists – such as hip and trendy physicist Dr Brian Cox – talk about the universe – and believe me, it’s difficult to get a lot of them to stop talking about the universe – then they invariably bring up subjects such as "Dark Matter" and "Hawking Radiation" and "String Theory" and "Space-Time Vortex Marmosets". Is it possible for a dummy like you to understand these complex scientific terms? Why, yes it is!
Today we’ll be looking at String Theory, explaining in simple terms just what it is and how it is the cause of the weak and strong gravitational properties in the universe.
One of the core principles of physics is that particles – for example particles of light radiation – behave both as particles (which you’d expect) and as waves (which is just mental). Physicists call this duality of particles: confusing. The confusing properties of particles allows physicists to bamboozle people and get grants.
Imagine a wave of particles streaming out across space. Wouldn’t that look like a great, long, wiggly string? You bet your unscientific ass it would! Is that string theory? You bet your unscientific ass it isn’t! However, it does demonstrate that particles – any particles – can form long strings. There are long string streams emanating from the Sun right now, washing up against buildings and reflecting colours into your eye holes. There are strings of radiation particles bursting forth from your monitor, crashing up against your face, and running down cracks in your skin to cancerfy your intestines too. There are streams of strings everywhere.
You may be thinking: "all this talk of streams is making me want to pee. Is that string theory?" No, that’s your prostate trouble flaring up again. I told you anal sex was dangerous.
Gravity is everywhere in the universe and as such it needs energy to keep it running. As luck would have it there is an awful lot of energy in all those particle strings all over the place. An awful lot. To demonstrate just how much energy is present in strings you can perform a string theory experiment of your own.
String Theory Experiment
You will need:
- a string of christmas tree lights
- a tree
- a bag
Step two: undecorate the tree.
Step three: put the lights in the bag.
Step four: put the bag in your loft.
Step five: wait one year.
Step six: retrieve the bag.
Step seven: untangle the string of lights.
What you will discover is that a seemingly inoffensive string with plastic bulbs on it somehow stores staggering levels of energy within.
Now imagine if you’d put two strings of lights in those bags. Pretty scary, huh? What about an infinite number of strings? A bit harder to imagine, but I’m sure you’re getting the picture.
The universe is like that bag in the loft containing more christmas tree lights than you can imagine. Every planet is a bulb; many of the bulbs are broken. The person trying to unravel all those strings is the Space-Time Vortex Marmoset Queen. The energy expelled by the Space-Time Vortex Marmoset Queen in unravelling the christmas tree lights is what we know as gravity. And that is string theory explained simply.
Next time on Simple Science … why the Space-Time Vortex Marmoset Queen doesn’t like you poking around her black holes.