Popular Science/String Theory


Hi, I read that if string theory is true than we would have to accept that there are something like 6 extra small space curved up dimensions that we can't see. The thing I don't understand about this is that aren't dimensions just tools to anable us to abbreviate mathmatical descriptions and not things that really exist? For example in two dimensional space, any particular point in space can be described using only one number (a bit like one number can describe any square on a snakes and ladders board). If you could imagine (although the numbers would be huge) a three dimensional grid laying over the whole universe (or multiverse) with each cube having the planck length to each side and incorporating planck time then every single point in spacetime can be represented with only one number so there is only one dimension isn't there?

Hi David,
Yes, I have seen either on our science TV channel (or was it the Discovery Channel) the idea of only one real dimension, so that's not an original idea of yours. But I have also seen them talking about some string theories (I think there are 6 different string theory models!)... that have up to 11 dimensions down at the Planck level, involving multiverses and membranes and such.
Realize that all these strange (or is the more proper word "different")... ideas, are still... philosophical, and not science, even string theory... which I don't buy into as I prefer LQG or loop quantum gravity at the very small philosophical level.
Until something is testable and repeatable at an experimental level, it is not science. So all those ideas of strings and membranes and multi-universes... are all in the philosophical realm and not real science, as yet.  It's entertaining to talk about them over a cup of tea (or coffee in the USA)... but it doesn't get you very far, from a scientific standpoint.

Perhaps later this century, when they finally figure out what dark matter and dark energy are,
that will shed some light (no pun intended) on the very very small. But even today, dark matter and dark energy are just barely out of the philosophical realm... what tests do we have for these dark and unknown entities?  Not very much. Right now they are simply an Occam's Razor explanation for the accelerating expansion of space, and an explanation for holding galaxy clusters together. As they say, we have an excess of hypotheses... we really need more data and observations and scientific explanations for all this stuff.
Hope this helps,
Clear Skies,
Tom Whiting
Erie, PA USA  

Popular Science

All Answers

Ask Experts


Tom Whiting


I can answer most questions involving general science and engineering, except those involving electronics and computers.  My strong points are all the Earth Sciences, especially Meteorology and Astronomy, and any related subjects to Astronomy.  My weak point is Electronics Technology.   No astrology questions please, or questions about alleged UFO identifications.


My hobby has been Astronomy for over 50 years. I currently ownand use a 30 inch portable telescope.   I taught at the University Level for 13 years.  My personal interest in life, in general,  has always been science oriented.

President - Erie County Mobile Observers Group for over 15 years.Member of allexperts.com astronomy catagory for over 8 years.

Astronomy Technology TodayErie Times Newspaper - I wrote the "Over Erie Skies" columnfor 11 years.

BS  Metallurgical Engineering Grove City College, PAMaster's Degree, Gannon University, Erie, PAAlso retired USAF pilot, 20 years.

Awards and Honors
I was the discoverer of the Mini-Coathanger Asterism up in Ursa Minor.  I earned 6 Air Medals with USAF and retired after 20 years of service with the rank of Major, with over 2100 hours flying time.I also earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1956.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.