One of the great outstanding questions in science is known as the “theory of everything”. What underlying laws of physics explain the forces we see in nature? Are gravity and electromagnetism the same force? One popular theory is known as string theory, and proposes that everything in the Universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings.
String theory’s mathematics work best when you invoke extra dimensions, beyond the 3 (plus time) that we can detect. Mathematicians propose that these extra dimensions are there, they’re just really small, and curled up inside the dimensions we can detect.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison think there’s a way we could detect those hidden dimensions, and support string theory with some actual evidence. These additional dimensions might have had an influence right at the beginning of the Universe, during its rapid expansion after the Big Bang. A pattern in the cosmic microwave background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang, which we can see in all directions, could have shadows of these other dimensions.
Unfortunately, the current satellites aren’t sensitive enough to detect these dimension shadows, but upcoming experiments, like ESA’s Planck satellite could have the sensitivity.
Original Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison News Release