String theory is arguably the most popular theory in theoretical physics; that is, it cannot be proven. The idea, is everything you see around you is made up of tiny strands of energy that vibrate at different frequencies. Until now, experimental verification has not been possible; but researchers at the University of California, Carnegie Mellon University, and The University of Texas are planning a definitive test with the future launch of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland that could disprove the current theory.
Similar to the well known U.S. particle collider at Fermi Lab, the Large Hadron Collider, scheduled for November 2007, is expected to be the largest, and highest energy particle accelerator in existence; it will use liquid helium cooled superconducting magnets to produce electric fields that will propel particles to near light speeds in a 16.7 mile circular tunnel. They then introduce a new particle into the accelerator, which collides with the existing ones, scattering many other mysterious subatomic particles about.
It is with this accelerator, that will allow researchers to begin observing the scattering of W bosons, an elementary particle that is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature and required in the proposed testing of the current string theory. I use “current” because string theory is just that, a theory; and it is constantly changing as more information becomes available.
“Our work shows that, in principle, string theory can be tested in a non-trivial way,” said Ira Rothstein, co-author of the paper and professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon.
“The beauty of our test is the simplicity of its assumptions,” said Benjamin Grinstein, a professor of physics at the University of California “The canonical forms of string theory include three mathematical assumptions—Lorentz invariance, analyticity and unitarity. Our test sets bounds on these assumptions.”
Grinstein also noted that if their test does not substantiate what the theory predicts, one of the key mathematical assumptions about the current string theory would be incorrect.