12th March 2004 at 00:00
Multi-dimensional hyperspace isn't a concept to be grasped easily, so why not make use of a metaphor? The central idea of superstring theory is that what we think of as different particles are just different string vibrational patterns. Create a series of different vibrational patterns on lots of real strings - guitars, violins, cellos, basses, and a harp, banjo and mandolin if you can get them. Open a piano and expose the wires, noting the differing thicknesses and tensions of the triple wires in the high register and the fat single coils for the deep notes. Set all the strings vibrating on a unison note by bowing, plucking or merely touching - a series of As at varied pitches, for example, with all the instruments producing harmonics above the fundamental. Slowly alter the notes to a D or an E. Try thinking of the changing notes as constituent parts of the universe. It may not be physics or philosophy, but it's fun.


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