Superstrings: Guitars, Fish, and the Theory of Everything

My East Bay buddy, Les, lived, breathed, and occasionally smoked so-called "superstrings." Les was a software engineer by day and a quantum junkie by night. He chewed-up and digested everything he could on String Theory, M-Theory, and the Theory of Everything. The "TOE" was Albert Einstein's illusive one-inch formula that would provide the "simple" unification of all forces in the cosmos.

Initially, I hung out with Les because he played guitar and grew special plants in his little atrium off the back porch. Over time, it was more than the music and the horticulture that wooed me over the Bay Bridge a couple times a week. I really started to crave these quantum expressions of unseen realms. Les' explanations of superstrings and the Theory of Everything (TOE) seemed to act as physical bridges in the midst my metaphysical battles. I won't rehash the gory details here, but let's just say that Les' ability to share eccentric scientific theories acted as naturalistic peace in my "supernatural" storms.

One day, Les and I were enjoying the atrium and ragging on the majority of the population who still believes in God, angels, and heaven. We laughed at the actual notion of the "supernatural" – the unseen crutch – for so many religious fundamentalists. And then it hit us – both at once... This is our unseen world too. We tend to use terms like "extra-dimensional," but it's the same thing! Natural, Supernatural, Omni-Natural… Mathematically, it all coexists!

Superstrings – Naturalists Forced to go Supernatural

As materialistic atheists, we like living in a "naturalistic vacuum." All things observable in nature can be explained by matter acting on matter in the physical realm. There's no need to invoke the non-physical… There's no need to conjure the supernatural. And yet, "in the name of science," that's exactly what we're doing. The observations and calculations underlying superstrings and the Theory of Everything require it of us!

Remarkably, String Theory requires ten dimensions to work. M-Theory requires eleven. Last I remember, I can only experience (let alone fathom) four dimensions --- three of space and one of time. Even with technological enhancements such as telescopes and microscopes, my five physical senses can only muster the four physical dimensions in our space-time continuum.

Therefore, if scientists are now telling me that there are ten, eleven, or more dimensions, what does that make the extra, unseen ones? Yes, by definition, they are extra-dimensional. Said another way, they must be non-physical (aka "metaphysical") and non-natural (aka "supernatural").

That's profoundly crazy -- I believe in the supernatural. The mainstream 21st century scientists and mathematicians require it. Whether we like it or not, quantum physical discussions make it mandatory for us to quietly return to metaphysical discussions...
"Is it really true that what we see is all that's there? Or is it the case that we're just not physiologically designed to experience or see those dimensions, but we'll eventually find evidence of them?" (Lisa Randall, Harvard Physicist)

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

Superstrings – The Extra-Dimensional Ripples of Michio Kaku

Think about it… 21st century technology allows scientists to see billions of light years into the massive cosmos, yet process in terms of "infinitely-small" hadrons, gluons, and quarks… My head always hurt, until I discovered a new hero, Dr. Michio Kaku.

Michio Kaku is brilliant and probably the top mind in quantum physics and superstrings. However, he uses story and illustration to bring the notion of extra-dimensional strings down to my spongy-headed level. As a young child, Michio spent hours watching carp at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. (I love this story because I discovered it online when I lived a couple miles from here.) He imagined the pond as an entire, two-dimensional universe, where the carp could only swim forwards and backwards, left and right. The concept of "up," beyond the lily pads, was totally alien to them.

Michio wondered, "What if I could reach down and grab a carp and lift him up into my universe?" What a wondrous story the carp would tell the others! He would babble on about new laws of physics and unbelievable creatures that move without fins and breathe without gills. However, without such a visit to the third dimension, how could a "thinking" carp know anything about the unseen world above?

One day it rained, and Michio saw the drops form ripples on the surface of the pond. Then he understood. The carp could see the rippling shadows. The third dimension was invisible to them, but vibrations in this dimension were clearly visible. The ripples might even be felt by the carp, who would invent scientific concepts such as "light" and "gravity" to help describe the unseen "force." Of course, the other carp in the pond would laugh at the notion, since carp know there's no "force" at all, just the rippling of the water.

Today, Michio Kaku believes we are the carp swimming in our tiny pond, blissfully unaware of invisible universes hovering just above us in hyperspace. As described on his self-named website, 21st century physicists can now "see" and "feel" the "ripples," and Michio Kaku is leading the charge towards a scientific formula that explains it all – yes, The Theory of Everything. Les and I love Dr. Kaku and follow his work "religiously." Indeed, he is the leading scientist in 10-dimensional string theory modeling – He truly believes he's tapped into unseen superstrings vibrating at the quantum level that provide the perfect harmony for all the fine-tuned forces in the cosmos.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
As hard as I try to dodge the truth, it seems the pursuit of the TOE – The Theory of Everything – is really the pursuit of GOD.


Image Credit: amanda tipton; "kitten play"; Creative Commons