Physicist Brian Greene explains string theory and why the world has 11 dimensions, not four

Imagine a world unified by a single scientific principle, something that can explain life’s greatest mysteries, from the origin of space and time to gravity and smaller matters, like daydreams.

Now imagine these quandaries explained by a seemingly infinite number of vibrating strings, none visible to the human eye. These infinitesimal filaments are the fabric of the universe, possibly contained within the fundamental quarks that are the building blocks of protons and neutrons which then make up the atoms on the periodic table.

Oh, and this imagined world has 11 dimensions, not the four dimensions up/down, left/right, backwards/forwards and time – we have in our so-called real world.

Brian Greene, a physicist, argues that the imaginary world, not the real one, is the world we actually occupy.

Greene, a leader in the field of super string theory (and bit of a pop phenom himself) has been researching his theory for decades. He is one of a small cadre of physicists at the forefront of discovering one unifying theory, a dream Albert Einstein worked on for the last 30 years of his life.

On Wednesday, Greene spoke to 900 people at Soka University’s Performing Arts Center, elucidating everything from the laws of physics to his thoughts on the meaning of life (it doesn’t lie in the cosmos but within oneself). On Thursday, he talked with students during an intimate tea-time conversation in the school’s library. He also sat down with the Register to talk about the secrets of our universe.

Q: How would the average, non-physicist be impacted by the confirmation of string theory?

A: Not much. And that’s why my mother is always wondering why I do this. But I say not much in the sense of immediacy. Over the long run our understanding of reality impacts our understanding of who we are. And if we learn that we are bundles of vibrating filamentous or we live in more dimensions than you can think based on experience, or that maybe there are other…

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