Chapter 14

Putting String Theory to the Test


Bullet Picking the right string theory to test

Bullet Disproving string theory may be harder than confirming it

Bullet Exploring two types of labs: Nature’s lab and particle accelerators

No matter how impressive string theory is, without experimental confirmation, it can be thought of as little more than mathematical speculation. As we discuss in Chapter 4, science is an interplay of theory and experiment. String theory attempts to structure the experimental evidence around a new theoretical framework.

One problem with string theory is that the energy required to get direct evidence for its distinct predictions is typically so high that it’s very hard to reach. Newer experimental methods and tools, such as the Large Hadron Collider (described at the end of this chapter), are expanding our ability to test in higher energy ranges, possibly leading to discoveries that more strongly support string theory predictions, such as extra dimensions and supersymmetry. Probing the strings directly requires massive amounts of energy that are still far away from any experimental exploration.

In this chapter, our goal is to look at different ways that string ...

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