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Old 05-03-2014, 07:55 AM
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Default The "Super" in Superstrings

Table of Contents
.......The Elegant Universe
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE, Brian Greene, 1999, 2003
```(annotated and with added bold highlights by Epsilon=One)
Chapter 7 - The "Super" in Superstrings
The "Super" in Superstrings
When the success of Eddington's 1919 expedition to measure Eintein's prediction of the bending of starlight by the sun had been established, the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz sent Einstein a telegram informing him of the good news. As word of the telegram's confirmation of general relativity spread, a student asked Einstein about what he would have thought if Eddington's experiment had not found the predicted bending of starlight. Einstein replied, "Then I would have been sorry for the dear Lord, for the theory is correct." 1 Of course, had experiments truly failed to confirm Einstein's predictions, the theory would not be correct and general relativity would not have become a pillar of modern physics. But what Einstein meant is that general relativity describes gravity with such a deep inner elegance, with such simple yet powerful ideas, that he found it hard to imagine that nature could pass it by. General relativity, in Einstein's view, was almost too beautiful to be wrong.

Aesthetic judgments do not arbitrate scientific discourse, however. Ultimately, theories are judged by how they fare when faced with cold, hard, experimental facts. But this last remark is subject to an immensely important qualification. While a theory is being constructed, its incomplete state of development often prevents its detailed experimental consequences from being assessed. Nevertheless, physicists must make choices and exercise judgments about the research direction in which to take their partially completed theory. Some of these decisions are dictated by internal logical consistency; we certainly require that any sensible theory avoid logical absurdities. Other decisions are guided by a sense of the qualitative experimental implications of one theoretical construct relative to another; we are generally not interested in a theory if it has no capacity to resemble anything we encounter in the world around us. But it is certainly the case that some decisions made by theoretical physicists are founded upon an aesthetic sense—a sense of which theories have an elegance and beauty of structure on par with the world we experience. Of course, nothing ensures that this strategy leads to truth. Maybe, deep down, the universe has a less elegant structure than our experiences have led us to believe, or maybe we will find that our current aesthetic criteria need significant refining when applied in ever less familiar contexts. Nevertheless, especially as we enter an era in which our theories describe realms of the universe that are increasingly difficult to probe experimentally, physicists do rely on such an aesthetic to help them steer clear of blind alleys and dead-end roads that they might otherwise pursue. So far, this approach has provided a powerful and insightful guide.

In physics, as in art, symmetry is a key part of aesthetics. But unlike the case in art, symmetry in physics has a very concrete and precise meaning. In fact, by diligently following this precise notion of symmetry to its mathematical conclusion, physicists during the last few decades have found theories in which matter particles and messenger particles are far more closely intertwined than anyone previously thought possible. Such theories, which unite not only the forces of nature but also the material constituents, have the greatest possible symmetry and for this reason have been called supersymmetric. Superstring theory, as we shall see, is both the progenitor and the pinnacle example of a supersymmetric framework.
Table of Contents
.......The Elegant Universe
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