Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Primordial weirdness: Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory

Date:
April 20, 2011
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
Did the early universe have just one spatial dimension? That's the mind-boggling concept at the heart of a new theory. Researchers now describe a test that could prove or disprove the "vanishing dimensions" hypothesis.

Scientists have outlined a test for "vanishing dimensions" hypothesis, which, if proven, would address major problems in particle physics.
Credit: iStockphoto/Mihail Ulianikov

Did the early universe have just one spatial dimension?

Related Articles


That's the mind-boggling concept at the heart of a theory that University at Buffalo physicist Dejan Stojkovic and colleagues proposed in 2010.

They suggested that the early universe -- which exploded from a single point and was very, very small at first -- was one-dimensional (like a straight line) before expanding to include two dimensions (like a plane) and then three (like the world in which we live today).

The theory, if valid, would address important problems in particle physics.

Now, in a new paper in Physical Review Letters, Stojkovic and Loyola Marymount University physicist Jonas Mureika describe a test that could prove or disprove the "vanishing dimensions" hypothesis.

Because it takes time for light and other waves to travel to Earth, telescopes peering out into space can, essentially, look back into time as they probe the universe's outer reaches.

Gravitational waves can't exist in one- or two-dimensional space. So Stojkovic and Mureika have reasoned that the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a planned international gravitational observatory, should not detect any gravitational waves emanating from the lower-dimensional epochs of the early universe.

Stojkovic, an assistant professor of physics, says the theory of evolving dimensions represents a radical shift from the way we think about the cosmos -- about how our universe came to be.

The core idea is that the dimensionality of space depends on the size of the space we're observing, with smaller spaces associated with fewer dimensions. That means that a fourth dimension will open up -- if it hasn't already -- as the universe continues to expand.

The theory also suggests that space has fewer dimensions at very high energies of the kind associated with the early, post-big bang universe.

If Stojkovic and his colleagues are right, they will be helping to address fundamental problems with the standard model of particle physics, including the following:

  • The incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity. Quantum mechanics and general relativity are mathematical frameworks that describe the physics of the universe. Quantum mechanics is good at describing the universe at very small scales, while relativity is good at describing the universe at large scales. Currently, the two theories are considered incompatible; but if the universe, at its smallest levels, had fewer dimensions, mathematical discrepancies between the two frameworks would disappear.
  • The mystery of the universe's accelerating expansion. Physicists have observed that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, and they don't know why. The addition of new dimensions as the universe grows would explain this acceleration. (Stojkovic says a fourth dimension may have already opened at large, cosmological scales.)
  • The need to alter the mass of the Higgs boson. The standard model of particle physics predicts the existence of an as yet undiscovered elementary particle called the Higgs boson. For equations in the standard model to accurately describe the observed physics of the real world, however, researchers must artificially adjust the mass of the Higgs boson for interactions between particles that take place at high energies. If space has fewer dimensions at high energies, the need for this kind of "tuning" disappears.

"What we're proposing here is a shift in paradigm," Stojkovic said. "Physicists have struggled with the same problems for 10, 20, 30 years, and straight-forward extensions of extensions of the existing ideas are unlikely to solve them."

"We have to take into account the possibility that something is systematically wrong with our ideas," he continued. "We need something radical and new, and this is something radical and new."

Because the planned deployment of LISA is still years away, it may be a long time before Stojkovic and his colleagues are able to test their ideas this way.

However, some experimental evidence already points to the possible existence of lower-dimensional space.

Specifically, scientists have observed that the main energy flux of cosmic ray particles with energies exceeding 1 teraelectron volt -- the kind of high energy associated with the very early universe -- are aligned along a two-dimensional plane.

If high energies do correspond with lower-dimensional space, as the "vanishing dimensions" theory proposes, researchers working with the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in Europe should see planar scattering at such energies.

Stojkovic says the observation of such events would be "a very exciting, independent test of our proposed ideas."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonas Mureika, Dejan Stojkovic. Detecting Vanishing Dimensions via Primordial Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Physical Review Letters, 2011; 106 (10) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.101101

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Primordial weirdness: Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420152059.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2011, April 20). Primordial weirdness: Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420152059.htm
University at Buffalo. "Primordial weirdness: Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420152059.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins