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String theory is a theory that states that all matter and energy originates with a special two dimensional unit called a quantum string. String theory is important because it can be considered a possible avenue for a theory of everything. A physics theory that would accurately describe the universe and all interactions that occur within it. String theory supposedly can do this by melding together both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics to describe energy and matter at both the macroscopic and microscopic scales.
String theory starts with the string. As the atom in earlier theories the string is supposed to be the smallest indivisible unit in the universe. You can essentially call it a basic building block of everything. However it doesn’t work the way we think of atoms or even molecules. It works on the bases of vibration. Essentially the universe is simply a symphony of vibrations produced by quantum strings. Some vibrations will produce matter while others will make energy. This theory supposedly even explains the fundamental particle for gravity, the graviton.
However there some glaring issues that still need to be addressed. For example there is the issue of gravity. Gravity is considered to be two entirely different things. In quantum mechanics its a particle, the graviton. In relativity it is a curve in space time. Gravity has not been fully explained so this still remains a major issue in reconciling quantum physics with general relativity.
The other major challenge is that string theory is hard to prove outside of the math. Every other major physics theory was proven through both the math and observation. However the string is theoretically so small that there is no direct way to test or prove its existence. This has lead some opponents to state that string theory is not a scientific theory but a mathematical model.
The last major challenge is that there are several string theories. Each gives its own flavor of how string functions. Recently some interesting discoveries have given evidence that several versions of string theory may actually be different perspectives of the same theory.
If you enjoyed this article there are other articles that you will enjoy on Universe Today. There iare some great articles on General Relativity and Special Relativity.
You can also check out Astronomy Cast. Episode 44 talks about general relativity.