E, A, D, G, B, E. These are the names of the strings of a standard tuned guitar. The six strings of a guitar vibrate with different frequencies and can produce enchanted melodies if they are arranged in a certain order. Now, why am I talking about the different frequencies of the strings of a guitar?
To answer the question simply, just have a look at the nearest object around you. Now, it can be a pen or a laptop or a cellphone, but most probably it would be a cellphone. But if we zoom in that cellphone, we can find molecules of that cellphone, which is normally not possible to be observed by our naked eyes. If we break down the molecules, we can find atoms and inside the atoms, we can find protons. Lastly, inside the proton, we can find quarks. Now is that really the end? Well, science has suggested that these quarks consist of strings inside of them. And these strings are unceasingly vibrating. These vibrations don’t produce musical notes like that of a guitar but produce particles themselves. So basically, a quark is nothing but a string vibrating in a certain pattern. These strings vibrate in different frequencies and produce different particles with distinctive properties like mass and charge. Now, look at that cellphone once again, the guise of that cellphone is just a screen, cameras, and a speaker but you can visualize strings vibrating in different frequencies. So kudos to those quivering strings for making our cellphone!
The idea that the basic particles we observe are not point-like dots but rather a string vibrating in different frequencies is known as String Theory. String theory is one of the candidates for “Theory of Everything” but yet, has not been solved entirely. It has been a controversial theory and a debatable topic for many physicists as there has been no empirical proof in this theory. String theory suggests that all the matters and forces present in this universe are the result of the vibration of tiny strands of energy i.e. string.
This quivering string is an aura of esoteric mystery and physicists are trying to connect this theory as a bridge to link up ‘Quantum mechanics’ and ‘General theory of relativity’. To those who are new to these terms, Quantum mechanics explains about physical phenomena using probability principles that involve tiny, minute particles and the General theory of relativity elucidates about the force of gravity and structure of space-time. These two theories almost enlightened every aspect of the universe from elementary particles to the evolution of the universe.
The universe is a vast thing and scientists are probably burning their fuels with an aim to get the answer to life. As a high school graduate, I came to know there are 4 dimensions, three spaces, and one time, but string theory proposes there are more than 4 dimensions. To understand that these dimensions can hide from us, let’s take an example of a tightrope walker. For him, the rope is just a one-dimensional line but for an ant, the rope has a second dimension, its thickness. Just like that, we are just a colony of ants in this universe, unable to solve the various conundrums, yet to know the truths and unceasingly working even at the end of the day. But is it worth knowing everything about the universe? Is physics truly a conclusion to everything?
Human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors called Australopithecus to Homo sapiens for 6 million years. Is 6 million years really that insufficient time to comprehend everything in our life? “What we see is a drop, what we don’t see is an ocean”, a famous quote by Isaac Newton, which clarifies that we are yet to discover myriad things in this universe but does scribing an essay about the strings help to find the unknown of the universe? Seems like this query is contradicting itself. But who knows what’s about to emerge in this universe. Moreover, string theory also suggests the concept of the multiverse and if we are just a tiny strand of energy vibrating itself, is it really vital to know everything in our life? We have a life span of about 70 to 80 years on average and that’s a tiny fraction of time like a drop in an ocean. So life is such a crucial miracle but we are overlooking our life to find something that is not truly perceptible. We are a colony of ants trapped in this huge soap bubble which is expanding itself. Furthermore, we should not forget that we are yet to find the dark energy that keeps this huge soap bubble expanding. At the end of the day, we are left with countless mysteries and inevitable conundrums. And these things are undeniably vanquishing our existential crisis. Our life has no intrinsic meaning but we are solely accountable for whatever happens in our life. We are the ones who must give meaning to our life.
We seek what we don’t have. And if we have a sanguine view in this, that’s the motivation of trying genuinely hard to find the meaning in our lives and that’s the reason the scientists are secreting dopamine out of their brain to know the unknowns. A perfect example would be scientists sweating their blood to find a cure for COVID-19. And that blaze of hope is what’s keeping all the humanity alive. Just like the soothing flow of the strings of a guitar, we must go with the flow of life. We, the Homo sapiens must be weaving our own path by connecting our various life strings.
By Sakar Hada, Kathmandu