How M Theory Could Replace String Theory and Bring Balance to the Cosmos

Share

For Decades, String Theory Dominated the Grand Cosmic Question. But Can M Theory Finally Unify the Five Versions of String Theory Into a Single Cosmic Explanation?

Let’s face it, string theory is the Johnny Depp of unifying theories. In the 90s and 2000’s it looked really good, was getting rave reviews, and had seemingly limitless potential. Then, when people started looking a little closer, things got a bit wonky. Not wonky enough to abandon it altogether, mind you… But definitely wonky enough for the scientific community to say, “Maybe this guy’s not quite as great as we all thought…” Since then, theoretical physicists have been trying to reconcile the wonkiness of the five versions of string theory. And one man thinks that the answer lies in what he calls M Theory.

Movie star comparisons aside, there were real mathematical problems with what we commonly refer to as string theory. One of the biggest issues is that there isn’t “a” string theory. There are five of them. And none of them agree with one another. Or so we thought. 

Five Theories, One Cosmos

The theories, named Type 1, Type IIA, Type IIB, SO(32) heterotic, and E8xE8 heterotic, share some similarities, but their math leaves some major differences in its wake. And no, we won’t be testing you on the names, but we will be referencing a couple soon.

One commonality shared by all string theories is the concept of subatomic strings vibrating in ways that shape all matter and energy in the cosmos. However, when you get down to the details, like Johnny Depp, things get wonky. Some theories differ on whether or not strings are closed loops or open wiggling strings like worms. Others limited the direction of the string’s vibration, while others kept both directions as possibilities. Finally, some theories were combinations of others.

See what I mean about the wonkiness? But hey, it’s quantum mechanics. What do you do?

Well, Edward Witten Knows…

…or at least he thinks he knows where to start. Witten gave a talk in the mid-’90s that suggested the five different theories had more in common than we thought. He suggested a broader unifying theory he called “M theory.” In short, M theory looks at what Witten calls dualities in the theories to determine where they line up and how they might all five interact as part of a larger picture. For example, if you increase the interaction strength of the strings in Type 1 string theory, it looks an awful lot like a weaker version of SO(32) heterotic. Similarly, the duality in the number of windings a string has around one of the ten dimensions proposed by all five theories shows that Type IIA and Type IIB are nearly two sides of the same coin.

While all five string theories propose ten total dimensions in the universe, Witten’s M Theory, which, while promising, is nowhere near complete, demands an eleventh. That dimension, however, though it must exist in M theory, is relatively insignificant in the grander scheme. 

Here’s a video explanation of M theory:

Again, Witten’s M theory is by no means complete. It doesn’t have a snappy final equation, like E=MC2. However, it’s potential to unify all five theories is enticing. Overall, it reimagines the way we view strings and attempts to connect the dots in newly imagined ways, and while it may not be the final answer, it seems to be taking us a few steps closer.

Read More:


Can’t Get enough Space Porn? Why not buy some merch from our marketplace, or support us on Patreon and unlock some great perks. We’d really appreciate it.

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *