Physicists have not yet found a single, elegant set of
laws describing all the fundamental forces of nature. But since
Einstein's day they have made important progress. Experiments using
particle accelerators have pointed the way to new mathematical rules,
which cover both electromagnetic forces and the nuclear forces that
shape the cores of atoms. These rules leave much to be explained,
but they do predict almost everything about the elementary behavior
of material particles.
Everything but gravity. Nobody has found a way to fit Einstein's
curved space together with the wholly different quantum approach
that works for electromagnetic and nuclear forces. Recently some
physicists proposed a third approach: "string theory." They picture
fundamental particles as tiny loops, which vibrate like violin
strings in a fantastic multidimensional space. Surprisingly,
gravitation emerges from these equations as a natural byproduct.
However, nobody has found a way to test string theory experimentally.
Unless that can be done the theory will remain, like Einstein's
attempts at unified field equations, a hopeful curiosity.
You can EXIT
to "The Particle Adventure" from CERN,
or EXIT to a site on string theory from
NOVA.
or EXIT to an "official"
String Theory Site.
