We all know that matter is made out of atoms, and you probably also know that atoms are made up of an arrangement of different particles, protons, neutrons, and electrons. These are the building blocks of all matter in the universe, but have you ever wondered if there are even smaller components that comprise these building blocks? Well there is, they are called elementary particles. Elementary particles are zero dimensional points in space that have no inner structure, they are super tiny bits of matter that make up the particles that make up the atom. Electrons are elementary particles orbiting protons and neutrons which form the nucleus. Protons and neutrons are not elementary particles. They are comprised of elementary particles called quarks. There are six different flavors (types) of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom. Protons are made of three quarks, two up quarks and one down quark. Neutrons are also made of three quarks, but instead, they have two down quarks and one up quark. These quarks are all held together by the strong nuclear force. To learn more about the strong nuclear force, click this link: http://scienceshockwave.com/post/60123696207
We know that these elementary particles (quarks and electrons) exist because we have gathered concrete, experimental evidence on them. But, is it possible that there are EVEN SMALLER particles that make up these elementary particles. If they exist, perhaps the reason we have not found them in experiments is because they are too small for our current technologies to detect? That is the case for String Theory. String theory that has NO concrete experimental evidence to support the theory. Very advanced mathematics has yielded information that have convinced many physicists (all over the world) that string theory may one day be proven correct. The current mathematical evidence for string theory is convincing because it has made significant progress in unifying natures laws into single theories that make sense even at the singularity. String theory has gotten us closer to resolving specific conflicts and contradictions in physics thus, unifying all of natures laws into a theory of everything. Let me explain these conflicts/contradictions now. The macroscopic scale is the world of large objects me and you live in. In order to describe macroscopic objects (large objects NOT on the subatomic level), physicists use einstein’s general relativity. And to describe the world of subatomic particles and molecules, physicists use quantum mechanics. There was a time when the two groups of physicists never had to discuss anything with each other because general relativity and quantum mechanics were irrelevant to one another. That is until physicists realized that the two came together at something called, the singularity. When a star dies and goes supernova, it can sometimes gets crushed down by its own weight to form a black hole. The dead star is the singularity of the new black hole. Singularities behave like quantum objects, but yet at the same time, they have an enormous amount of gravity, which is general relativity, which is a property of macroscopic objects! The crazy world of quantum mechanics and general relativity are intervening, thus, all equations break down and no longer allows us to make any mathematical calculations. That is why we know so little about the singularity. The singularity of the big bang is a perfect example in the extreme. String theories ultimate goal is to allow us to calculate quantum mechanics and general relativity when they intervene with each other. This not only conveniently unifies the world of the large and the small but will hopefully give us insight to singularities and the big bang. Perhaps, we will be able to answer some big questions. I am not going to begin to talk about string theory because it deserves an article all to itself. I will end on this, even if you think string theory is wrong, the goal that string theory is working on is one that will give us an incredible understanding of the universe when accomplished.