171: String Theory
Title text: This works on pretty much every level.
String theory is a theory in theoretical physics for explaining how the universe works. It is a theory trying to explain everything belonging to our universe; specifically, it aims to unite general relativity and quantum field theories.
When a new theory is thought up, the theorists will usually supply some predictions, measurable by experimental physicists. String theory's predictions, however, are few and extremely difficult to test; though its inception was over forty years ago, string theory has yet to be experimentally tested.
Randall is unimpressed with string theorists (for another instance of this, see the punchline to 397: Unscientific). String theory has not provided any useful new knowledge to engineering science as quantum physics has, and lacks the imagination-stirring philosophical implications that the general population associates with other fields — for example, quantum scientists have proven predictions like tunneling, used by modern electronic devices, and relativity is relevant to modern systems like GPS navigation. String theory either hasn't reached that stage yet or cannot.
In the title text, Randall points out that string theory is so technically difficult that at essentially every level (except, presumably, the very top), this explanation is as good as it gets.
- [Heading above panel:]
- String theory summarized:
- [Two Cueballs are talking.]
- Cueball: I just had an awesome idea. Suppose all matter and energy is made of tiny, vibrating "strings".
- Friend: Okay. What would that imply?
- Cueball: I dunno.
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