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String theory is one of the most exciting and profound developments in modern theoretical physics Unfortunately it is a highly technical subject that can only be well understood using the tools of Quantum Field Theory It also doesnt hurt to know some mathematics like Group Theory Differential Geometry and Algebraic Geometry Needless to say this is prohibitive for most people who are far too busy doing other things String theory is to be a theory of quantum gravity then the average size of a string should be somewhere near 10 to the 33 centimeter or about a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter This means that strings are far to small to see by the current technology and so string theorists must devise clever methods to test the theory than just looking for little strings in particle experimentsString theory is a science in progress we are still learning new and unexpected things about it everyday Whether or not string theory actually describes the universe that we live in is not known - yet As we will see it has remarkable potential to do so Superstrings live in a 10-dimensional spacetime but we observe a 4-dimensional spacetime Somehow we need to link the two if superstrings are to describe our universe To do this we curl up the extra 6 dimensions into a small compact spaceThis is actually a very old idea dating back to the 1920s and the work of Kaluza and Klein This is often called Kaluza-Klein theory The idea that our universe might have more than the three familiar spatial dimensions is one which was introduced more than half a century before the advent of string theory The basic premise of such theories is that a dimension can be either large and directly observable or small and essentially invisible The five superstring theories appear to be very different when viewed in terms of their descriptions in weakly coupled perturbation
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