Alpine Summit

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

String Theory

I hear a lot of talk from my athiest (though I think he's more of an antitheist) roomate about string theory and how our universe wasn't "created" by an intelligent being. I was slumming around google video and found this NOVA episode about string theory and the implications it has to answer some very old questions. Its implications could explain the origins of the universe. A tall order for any scientific theory, I must say.

The basic premise goes that the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings, and they are at the center of all behavior in this universe. String theory's nature, if it's true, means there are other universes all around us. The NOVA episode used a loaf of bread as an example and described our universe as a simple "slice" of that bread (or greater existence).

The appeal for this theory in science comes from the math behind it. They mentioned that as this concept has evolved, they have come to something that looks nothing like the original theory. When they come up with one mathematical equation to explain the nature of part of the latest theory, it usually presents a problem with some other aspect of the theory. I have to say I like this one idea in the theory about us living on a "brane" (short for membrane) that is some "thin" sliver of a greater creation. There are many places in the Bible where the universe is described as being "thin" in a sense as it talks about being rolled up, like a tent, etc. It talks then about parallel universes and stuff which I might think could be heaven and hell rather than something out of a sliders episode. In terms of the math, though, I was reminded of "A Beautiful Mind" where the guy was finding secret Russian codes in Time magazine.

The problem with string theory is it's lack of empirical evidence to support it. Right now, string theory is simply a math equation that, if true, could result in other math equations that could explain the universe. The theory as it is now, requires there to be particles called "sparticles" and "gravitons." They say gravity is such a weak force in the universe because it can go to these different dimensions. If that's true, we should be able to "feel" in some sense the gravity of these other dimensions (which we don't). The latest experiments are to smash atoms together and try and measure escaping graviton particles going into the other dimension. To me, it seems like a lot is being taken on faith, and this is far from being any kind of sound scientific theory. In fact, the scientists interviewed said they could find out tomorrow that this entire field of study is a dead end, but the alure of the math is just too great.

I realize that "God did it" isn't a sound scientific explanation for the happenings of the universe, but it strikes me that this is the hottest thing in physics today and it requires as much (if not more) faith to believe than simply that there's a God and that He created the universe. Even if they somehow proved string theory to be true, it would still never explain that God didn't create the universe.

I'm interested to see if they ever prove this theory and if they do, what the actual implications will be. From what I heard though, I'm not too convinced that it will be proven a fact anytime soon.