Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Hike in 10 Dimensions

According to string theory, everything in the universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings, which, by virtue of their particular vibrations, define every subatomic particle there is. However, in order for the mathematics of string theory to work, the strings have to be vibrating in as many as 10 spatial dimensions. Where are these extra dimensions? Why can't we see them? Why can't we experience them? Well, for one, we are 3-dimensional beings, with no perception of extra dimensions (besides the temporal dimension known as time). For two, the extra spatial dimensions are tiny. Way too tiny for us to see. Experimentalists are working very hard, as we speak, to create a means of detecting the existence of these dimensions. Now, is all that perfectly clear? No? Do not be dismayed. If you click here, you will be transported to a web site with a nice animated explanation of what 10 dimensions look like. Sort of. I found it very illuminating. Really. (Move your pointer to the left where it says "Navigation." This will allow you to click where it says "Imagining the Ten Dimensions.")