A new toolkit of equations will help theorists determine whether a promising agreement between particle physics and string theory is fact or fancy.
The research is reported in Physical Review Letters and accompanied by a Viewpoint in the September 21, 2009 issue of Physics.
Physicists long for a single theory to describe the universe, but so far can't shoehorn Einstein's gravity and quantum mechanics into one elegant mathematical box. In 1997, a physicist named Juan Maldacena raised hopes of unification by proposing that the four-dimensional kingdom of a specific quantum theory was merely the border of a five-dimensional spacetime ruled by string theory. The possible harmony tantalized string theorists, but eluded proof, because the two theories were almost impossible to compare.
Now Nikolay Gromov, Vladimir Kazakov, and Pedro Vieira have assembled a hefty toolbox of equations to help the thwarted string theorists tackle the question. With these tools in hand, theorists can measure the predictions of string theory against a slew of the quantum theory's results with unprecedented ease, placing them closer to finding out if Maldacena's idea is rock solid or the stuff of dreams.
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