Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Test for String Theory?

Researchers at University of California, San Diego, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of Texas at Austin have developed what they believe will be a means of testing String Theory, the leading candidate for unifying the laws of physics into a single theory.

The process involves testing one of the three underlying mathematical assumptions used by String Theory, that there is a smoothness criteria for the scattering of high-energy particles after a collision. They propose to test this assumption by using the Large Hadron Collider to investigate the scattering of W bosons. If the W bosons do not scatter according to the predictions made by String Theory, physicists will know that there is a flaw in the theory.

“If the bounds are satisfied, we would still not know that string theory is correct,” said Jacques Distler, a professor of physics at The University of Texas at Austin.

One of the main criticisms of String Theory has been that it is largely untestable. And while this test is not a perfect test, it will allow researchers to test at least a part of the theory, and that's at least progress toward a better understanding of our universe.

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