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Compact Cosmos

34 FORCESANDFIZZICKS known and knot Holding the universe together are four forces. Two, the strongand weak,govern subatomic interactions,while electric sparks,attractive magnets,and rays of light are due to the electromagnetic. Although the weakest force, gravity extends its grip across the cosmos working its magic by warping spacetime the greater the mass,the larger the warp. Both space and time are affected,clocks running slightly slower on Earth than in orbit. Gargantuan events like supernovae and colliding black holes may create huge subtle gravity waves, moving distortions of spacetime itself. More visible are gravitational lenses where light from a distant source is bent when passing a massive intervening object to produce spectacular multiple images of the source. There is a suspicion that the forces are all aspects of one pheno menon. Mtheory suggests the fundamental particles of the universe might be smaller strands of vibrating energy, tying stringtheories with relativity and quantum concepts. Like notes on a violin,each particle is a particular resonance of the string. One dimensional strings, and their extended membranelike cousins the branes, need ten or eleven dimensions in which to vibrate, more than the usual four of spacetime. These may exist folded into spaces smaller than atoms,or live invisibly alongside ours. Some scientists believe our universe is confined to a particular brane and that we live on but one of an infinitude of bubbly branes, floating through a multidimensional hyperspace. 34 35 35
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