Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unravelling the random fluctuations of nothing

03.08.2007
Universe’s stringy birth revealed by young Czech scientist in EURYI winning project

The dream of theoretical physics is to unite behind a common theory that explains everything, but that goal has remained highly elusive. String theory emerged 40 years ago as one of the most promising candidates for such a theory, and has since slipped in and out of favour as new innovations have occurred. Now Europe is fortunate to have one of the world’s leading experts in string theory working on an ambitious project that could make significant progress towards a unified theory, and at least help resolve two mysteries. One is how the universe emerged in the beginning as a random fluctuation of a vacuum state, and the other is a common explanation for all sub-atomic particles.

Czech physicist Dr. Martin Schnabl has been selected to receive a EURYI Award by the European science Foundation (ESF) and the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCS) to help him pursue his project and build on five years of hard work culminating in the solution of an equation in string field theory that had gone unsolved for 20 years. The elegance and beauty of the solution have been widely praised in a field that is highly regarded for its aesthetic appeal, drawing together many important concepts in mathematics and physics. The EURYI Awards scheme, entering its fourth and final year, aims to attract outstanding young researchers from anywhere in the world to work in Europe for the further development of European science, contributing to building up the next generation of leading European researchers.

String theory was developed in an attempt to bring together the physics of the big and the small, represented respectively by general relativity and quantum mechanics. It replaces the idea of elementary particles occupying a single zero point with a one dimensional string joining two points. In this sense a string, like a particle, is a model designed to represent or predict particular fundamental properties of the physical universe. But while the number of particles continued to grow, the string was an attempt to join them all together, leading to the idea of a string field. This field represents all particles as vibrations of a string at given frequencies. The string field is then the sum total of all vibrations, elegantly bringing all particles together into one, so that physicists no longer need to be embarrassed by the discovery of yet another particle type.

“It's a sort of field theory for the infinite tower of oscillatory modes of a string, each of them representing different particle species,” Schnabl said. As Schnabl observed, string field theory, by explaining also how quantum mechanics is compatible with general relativity, is essential for understanding what goes on in situations where both of these are playing together.

“It is important in the regimes where quantum gravity is important, such as black holes and the beginning of the universe,” added Schnabl. In both cases, dimensions can be small, requiring quantum mechanics, but energies and mass are enormous, creating huge gravitational fields that currently can only be dealt with by general relativity.

One of the problems of string field theory lies in conducting experiments that test predictions or help inspire new theoretical developments. The theory predicts that the universe has 10 dimensions, of which four are the ones we observe in spacetime. Yet in 40 years no better candidate has emerged to explain the properties of the universe, or all universes, at all scales of time and distance. Furthermore the string field has a habit of feeding the rest of physics and mathematics by virtue of lying at the cutting edge of analytical reason. This is why it should interest lay people as well, insisted Schnabl. “The very general public can be interested if they enjoy watching mankind's advances in understanding some of the deepest questions about the nature of our universe.”

Schnabl, a 34 year-old Czech scientist, is a member of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. He took his PhD in theoretical physics at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, then went on to become research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CERN fellow at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. He has established himself as one of the world experts on string field theory, a particularly promising approach to string theory. He will be conducting his research at the Institute of Physics Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic after receiving his award in Helsinki, Finland on 27 September 2007 with other 19 young researchers.

EURYI is designed to attract outstanding young scientists from around the world to create their own research teams at European research centres and launch potential world-leading research careers. Most awards are between €1,000,000 and €1,250,000, comparable in size to the Nobel Prize.

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/activities/euryi/awards/2007/martin-schnabl.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses
28.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik

nachricht Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses
27.07.2017 | Universität Innsbruck

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D imaging reveals how human cell nucleus organizes DNA and chromatin of its genome

28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heavy metals in water meet their match

28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>