Superstrings: A Theory of Everything?by P. C. W. Davies
Pub. Date: 07/28/1992
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Geared to the layperson, a clear, concise, non-mathematical explanation of the "Theory of Everything" and its profound implications is followed by transcripts of interviews with most of the physicists involved in its development. See more details below
Geared to the layperson, a clear, concise, non-mathematical explanation of the "Theory of Everything" and its profound implications is followed by transcripts of interviews with most of the physicists involved in its development.
Table of Contents
Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. John Schwarz; 3. Edward Witten; 4. Michael Green; 5. David Gross; 6. John Ellis; 7. Abdus Salam; 8. Sheldon Glashow; 9. Richard Feynman; 10. Steven Weinberg; Glossary; Index.
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The book consists of two parts although it is not formally so divided; the first part provides an introduction and background information to the so called 'Theory of Everything' and the second part consists of interviews with nine experts in the field of Particle Physics who have the intimate knowledge about the theory. The book is based on a documentary prepared for BBC Radio 3 in 1987. The list of the interviewees includes John Schwarz and Michael Green who are the pioneers of the superstrings theory although the original string theory, which dates back to around 1968 started with Veneziano and later with Nambu. The list also includes Ed Witten, one of the Princeton Quartet, who has made significant contributions to the theory. There are the stalwarts of the particle physics also, i.e., Richard Feynman, Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam, and Steven Weinberg, all Nobel Laureates, included in the list whose contributions have made the book all the more interesting because Glashow's and Feynman' views on the superstrings theory are radically different from those of the theory's proponents. Glashow and Feynman are particularly concerned about lack of validation of the proposed theory(ies) with the experimental data. The experimental data, which can thoroughly authenticate the theory, will be hard to come by for a long time in the future, if ever. The formulators of the theory still do not have a theory of everything; yet they are extremely excited and running wild with expectations. In response to a question, Glashow remarked, 'It has often been said by my string theory friends that superstrings are going to dominate physics for the next half of a century. Ed Witten has said that. I would like to modify that remark. I would say that string theory will dominate the next fifty years of physics in the same way that Kaluza-Klein theory, another kookie theory upon which the string theory is based, has dominated particle physics in the past fifty years. Which is to say - none at all'. Even the scientists at the forefront of the superstrings theory assert that it would be quite a while before the theory of everything got developed. The mathematics needed for this purpose is extremely difficult and would need to be developed before the theory gets its final shape. At present, there are five or six hot candidates among thousands upon thousands of superstring theories, one of which would materialize as the final theory. No body knows which one. There is a possibility that none of these may pass the test. The euphoria generated by the superstring theories is incredible. In spite of this, many physicists are predicting the 'end of physics' when the theory is developed which they believe is just about to happen. Both Glashow and Feynman have injected a sense of realism by suggesting that things may not happen the way the superstring theorists are claiming that they would. On the whole, the book is very readable, like a mystery novel.