Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stringing It All Together

3D seems to be everywhere at the moment. Burberry made history at London Fashion Week last year by streaming its catwalk show live in 3D. Adidas has a touch wall that lets you browse for your sneakers in three dimensions. Nintendo has just released the first 3D handheld gaming device with no need for special glasses. Movies have been in the 3D space for a while. TV is also breaking through the screen limit – 3D promises to turn sports and adventure shows into richer viewing experiences; make animation more animated, drama more dramatic; and bring the jungle to your living room for National-Geographic-style programs.

All of which invites questions not only about how many dimensions we experience the world in, but how many we actually exist in. For most of us the mind boggles when we try to imagine more than a few steps beyond time and space. Movies conjure images of blackboards and notepads covered in enigmatic equations punctuated with Greek letters and wayward vectors, exciting but incomprehensible. But one of the co-founders of Modern String Field Theory has come to the rescue on The Big Think. CUNY’s Dr. Michio Kaku believes we exist in no fewer – and no more – than 11 dimensions. I like the musical metaphor that connects it all together:

The subatomic particles we see in nature, the quarks, the electrons, are nothing but musical notes on a tiny vibrating string. What is physics? Physics is nothing but the laws of harmony that you can write on vibrating strings. What is chemistry? Chemistry is nothing but the melodies you can play on interacting vibrating strings. What is the universe? The universe is a symphony of vibrating strings.

What a sublime thought. Here we are, trembling together, quivering imperceptibly in harmony on levels we can only imagine.

1 comment:

yo_ghurt said...

That Adidas touch wall is fantastic. Developed with a lot of sweat and tears (and maybe some blood!) by the very talented folk at StartJudgeGill in your very own Manchester.