The super string theory, when proven, would produce the unified theory that particle physicists and mathematicians are still searching for. Einstein believed this is a logical necessity; discovering the big picture rather than the threads and pixels that make it up. Super string theory has mathematically come the closest to achieving a grand unified theory (GUT), but so far particle physics has not found evidence to chart the music of the spheres.
The irresistible draw to uncover the GUT is the draw to know where all existence came from, and is why many scientists pursue particle physics. The big bang theory does not offer an explanation for how these forces came to be, but a GUT would be a closer source to the fundamental nature of creation. If discovered, the unified theory could allow scientists to follow the particle trail back before the big bang. Standard physics studies the behavior and impact of fundamental forces like gravity. Before the big bang these forces may have been non-differentiated from the source of all energy. Having a grand unified theory would then allow scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers to theorize about the early universe when fundamental forces were a part of one force.
Science is a system designed to objectively ask the most passionate questions humans have. Removing emotional dissonance of the intense need to know gives the object of study a greater chance of revealing its inherent nature. At least that is what scientists believed before the discovery of quantum mechanics. Since that time, scientists have been more open about their excitement, realizing there is no way to be truly objective when a part of the experiment.
In 2012, scientists discovered the last particle of the Standard Model of particle physics. Called professionally the Higgs boson, and casually as the God particle, this particle reveals how subatomic particles acquire mass. The particle is associated with the Higgs field, which is thought to interpenetrate the entire universe. The theory goes that as particles pass through the Higgs field they pick up mass, but mass is not created by this field. Here is the need for a grand unified theory. The hope is that in many investigations where the whys dead-end the GUT would clarify the path to the answer. Fundamentally, scientists and philosophers wonder if there ever could be a stop to inquiry.
Still, super string theory encourages the search for the whys behind the behavior of particle physics. Currently in Manchester, ‘beautiful physics,’ is on view at the Museum of Science and Industry. This exhibit is a celebration of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its efforts to grasp the tiniest of whys. The 17 mile underground circular tunnel in Geneva is the best equipment science has for observing the behavior of subatomic particles. Although they have had some setbacks with this precise technology, they are forging ahead creatively exploring how the theory meets the real.
Currently LHC is receiving an upgrade with the intention of doubling the power of the largest particle accelerator in the world. Much money is invested into discovering the particle trail to the grand unified theory. On this road, scientists are also investigating gravity and dark matter, which make up more than 95 percent of the entire universe. That is a big chunk of the unified whole. Some days the theoretical promise of the grand harmony of super string theory has particle physicists still scratching their heads, but they have the support of humanity to continue their search.
By Grace Pollari