Brian Greene: The universe on a string

In clear, nontechnical language, string theorist Brian Greene explains how our understanding of the universe has evolved from Einstein’s notions of gravity and space-time to superstring theory, where minuscule strands of energy vibrating in 11 dimensions create every particle and force in the universe. (This mind-bending theory may soon be put to the test at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.)

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12 thoughts on “Brian Greene: The universe on a string

  1. The Large Hadron Collider might prove string theory, I suspect that it will. But if the Large Hadron Collider creates microblackholes, and if they are stable as Einstein theorized, then the knowledge may only be with us for a short period of time, for we may only have a short period of time.CERNs web site states that we have not been destroyed by effects of cosmic rays and micro black holes will evaporate.However, cosmic rays strike relatively stationary objects and results travel too fast to be captured by Earths gravity, while colliders smash particles head on, may focus all energy to a single point and can be captured by Earths gravity. Einsteins relativity theory predicts that micro black holes will not decay but instead only grow, and Hawking Radiation contradicts relativity, is unproven and is credibly disputed by at least 3 peer reviewed studies.The LHC Safety Assessment Group has been trying for months to prove safety without success. However science may still be a few years away from being able to prove safety or not.Professor Dr. Otto E. Roessler, Theorist Dr. Raj Baldev and others are warning of a very real, very possible, very present danger to the planet from the Large Hadron Collider.If this experiment is so safe, why arent CERN scientists allowed to express any personal fears they might have about this Collider?Alleged in the legal action: Chief Scientific Officer, Mr. Engelen passed an internal memorandum to workers at CERN, asking them, regardless of personal opinion, to affirm in all interviews that there were no risks involved in the experiments, changing the previous assertion of minimal risk. (Statisticians generally consider minimal risk as 1-10%).Previous safety studies ruled out any possibility of creating microblackholes in a collider. But predictions have changed and CERN has estimated the possibility of creating 1 microblackhole per second in the Large Hadron Collider. No peer reviewed safety study has ever been produced that I am aware of that speaks to the safety of creating microblackholes on Earth.If we delay for a safety study, some scientists at CERN may not be the first to discover some new science, and some Nobel prizes may be at stake.But which would more wise, conduct a full and independent adversarial peer reviewed safety study first, or just turn it on now and discover science as quickly as humanly possible?

  2. Brian Greene has the gift for communicating scientific concepts to non-scientists.Science and society greatly benefit from people like him.I am happy to see that common sense will prevail and the “teach the controversy” folks like the post above will not stop people from learning more about our universe(s).I couldn’t help but think that if the superstring theory is verified, it would open up a new new way of understanding energy in our existence.You would see technological advances in which the technology looks as fundamentally different from what we think of as technology as say, the internet looks different from a stone flaking tool.

  3. yes, I think he is over-selling far too much. It’s also very likely that the LHC doesn’t validate any of the predictions of superstring theory, neither supersymmetry nor other dimensions. We just don’t know yet if it’s a valid representation of reality.So if the LHC doesn’t verify any of these, then what will he say ? Oh, the energy levels were still too low. And then ?So, I think it’s best to remain more circumpspect for the time being. It’s a mistake to over-sell beforehand, that could backfire if the results aren’t that positive.And fundamental research certainly doesn’t need that.

  4. Greene is fantastic in print and on video. From “The Elegant Universe” to his ubiquitous appearance on TV science shows he makes the dizzying world of string theory understandable for the masses and a dope like me–no small feat.

  5. I’m skeptical about string theory still. It’s great to see intelligent guys working on it and trying to actually make predictions, but I think that the current theoretical physics mindset that string theory must be right is flawed. I just wish we could see more radical thinkers out there… cuz string theory has gotten us nothing in almost 30 years.

  6. @JTankers,You’re wrong on several technical points. Micro black holes are not vacuums that suck in everything around them. Like all matter, their gravitational strength is proportional to the matter they contain, which from a macroscopic distance (well outside their tiny “horizon”) is no stronger than any equivalent matter. If created, these things would have no more attraction than the few particles whose collision created them. They might damage the atoms in the detectors, soil, and air they collide with, but then they would fly away and out of harms way.Also, Hawking’s black-body radiation, which is widely accepted as valid, does not “contradict” Einstein’s relativity theory, in the sense of only one can be valid. Rather, Hawking radiation is one effect of a more complete (and still unknown) quantum theory of gravity, while Einstein’s theory is the classical approximation of the more complete quantum theory. Both can be (and so far appear to be) valid.

  7. they would fly away and out of harms way.I’ve heard that before, but how doest that happen? How can you say that a mini black hole will not have any different relationship gravitationally than it is allowed by its tiny-ness, but somehow it gets to just “fly away” from the earth!?!? Please explain.Wouldn’t it just sit there slowly sucking stuff into itself until scientists, or Bruce Willis or somebody, figured out how to suspend it in a harmless forcefield, or put it on a rockt ship and shoot it at the sun or whatever…(no, wait, not the sun… that would be bad)

  8. Ah, JTankers, perhaps that’s the reason for the great silence in the universe and the absence of ET civilizations: they all built LHCs and black hole’d themselves out of existence.There must be an SF short story in there, somewhere.Great Brian Greene vid, BTW. I relied on his books heavily when I was writing my most recent novel. Roger Penrose’s book, The Road to Reality, was also helpful.TK KenyonAuthor of CALLOUS: A Novel, a story about free will, neuroscience, fate, Schrodinger’s Cat, and the End of Days.

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