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What Sheldon Does… Strings?

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Many people may have heard of String Theory, Superstring Theory or, possibly, even M-Theory. In the popular television series “The Big Bang Theory”, the character Sheldon is working on this very theory, something referenced in a few episodes. Fewer people know what these theories are. Superstring Theory is among the leading candidates to unify gravity with the other forces of mature and matter and energy under one “Theory of Everything”, but it’s kind of weird.


String Theory postulates extra dimensions, a total of either 10 or 11. Okay, so we have the usual 3 spatial dimensions and time. That makes 4. Where are the other 6 (or 7)? There are a few hypotheses of where they may be hidden. The hidden dimensions may be curled up at the Plank Length -that’s really f-in’ small- so that light just circles around them so that we cannot see them. Possibly, this universe exists on a 3-dimensional membrane, floating in a higher dimensional space. There could be other universes out there- similar to this one or quite different. They could exist in 7 dimensions. Or 2. Floating in this same space. See, membranes, along with strings, are the heart of String Theory.


Everything in the universe, according to String Theory, can be equated to a rock and roll band. On a guitar, various strings can be played to create different notes. In the same way, it is believed, nature is played on strings. These strings vibrate against a system of higher dimensional membranes, called “P-branes”. The various “notes” of these vibrations manifest themselves as the subatomic particles currently understood. The different strings can play different notes and, like a band playing together in harmony, bring together the greatest anthem of all time, existence itself. 

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