How can string theory be wrong

Viennese physicist dampens new advance in string theory

Vienna - Theories that evade experiments are a great arguing - for example string theory. It has been tried for decades to unite gravity with quantum theory to form a common theory of all forces. For several months now, a revolutionary-sounding advance has been discussed by US researchers, which a Viennese physicist is now opposing.

The standard model of physics assumes elementary particles that make up our world. String theory, on the other hand, knows no particles, only one-dimensional objects: strings. The various known particles would therefore only manifest themselves through different vibrations of these "strings". For this, however, it would not only need the three, but significantly more spatial dimensions. From a mathematical point of view, string theory delivers entirely understandable results, but its predictions can hardly be verified experimentally.

Vafa's guess

Before summer, a team led by Harvard physicist Cumrun Vafa, one of the leading string theorists, published a revolutionary-sounding conjecture: According to this, string theory should be fundamentally incompatible with the existence of dark energy as it was previously understood. The problem with this is that only dark energy can explain the accelerated expansion of the universe.

This ever faster spread is recognized, however, and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for its discovery. That is why string theorists around the world have been discussing this question for months, as announced by the Vienna University of Technology.

New drive

However, Timm Wrase from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the TU Wien realized that something was wrong with Vafa's assumption. If it were actually so, there shouldn't be a Higgs particle either, show his calculations, which he has now published in the journal "Physical Review D" together with German and US colleagues. But the Higgs particle has been proven beyond doubt - the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for this in 2013.

Wrase has his results on the online platform even before they are published "Arxiv" published and triggered heated discussions. "This controversy is a good thing for string theory," said the researcher. Because suddenly a lot of people have completely new ideas that nobody had thought about before. "Perhaps that will lead to exciting new insights into the nature of dark energy - that would be a great success," said Wrase. (APA, red, October 8, 2018)