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Essential Elements

52 53 StrIngS thIngS bubbles and branes The more we probe into the wispy knottings of wave matter stuff, the more there is to find. Currently beyond our experimental abilities, the colossal energies bound up in the quantum realm present a field day for adventurous mathematicians. Attempts to find a Theory of Everything combining quantum mechanics, Einsteins relativity and other universal patterns have produced many intriguing thoughts. Most invoke additional dimensions to the usual four of spacetime. Several types of superstrings, one dimensional threads that loop and vibrate across ten or so dimensions, have been mapped. Some quantum models that include gravity require eleven dimensions and supersymmetries to relate the elementary particles, connecting forces to phenomena. Others suggest that we are just one universe amongst an infinitude. After a great deal of head scratching, the latest fad is that the knitting of superstrings and the pull of supergravity may be different viewpoints over a larger vista, the marvellous, mysterious Mtheory. This pictures the universe as ripples in an infinitely vast, infinitely thin pbrane like a membrane that spans many dimensions stretching through hyperspace. One idea is that the big bang was caused by branes colliding, our small universe being merely the interference patterns where they cross. Formed from hidden harmonies, perhaps in the end we are only as real as the holographic sparkles in a sunny pool, or the fractal rainbow swirls on the surface of a soap bubble.
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