Recently, the Planck particles (grains) making up the firmament have received a new name. Instead of being called "Planck particles," they are now called "massive superstrings." Here follows a brief sketch of how the theory of massive superstrings has come about.
One of the great achievements of physics the 20th century is the field of nuclear physics. Its study searches for an ultimate particle which can be subdivided no further. When molecules were split into their component parts, it was thought that the subparts could be split no further and so they were called "atoms," after the Greek word for an indivisible particle. Needless to say, the atom was later split into protons, neutrons and electrons. These have been split further into electro-weak symmetry masses. In a paradoxical way, each such successive split has taken more and more energy to discover. It only takes about 10 volts to tear a molecule apart while it takes about 100 volts to strip an atom of its electrons. It takes 10 million volts to tear up an atomic nucleus while it takes 1011 volts (a hundred billion) to strip a proton into its component parts. At each step, the new particle takes higher energy but occupies a smaller and smaller volume of space. In what follows, bear in mind that modern accelerators can only produce roughly a trillion volts (1012).
One of the major steps in the search for fundamental particles is the Grand Unification theory (GUT). It would take about 1025 volts to confirm it, which is ten trillion times as much as the most powerful accelerators in existence today. But GUT has its shortfalls, namely, it is plagued by ambiguity; there's more than one way to unify physics. Its apparent successor is the theory of superstrings which have energies of the order of 1026 (electron) volts. Superstring theory has succeeded in uniting all particles, both fermions and bosons, within a single (multi-dimensional) superspace. In the superstring theory, the string is of length 10-33 cm (the same size as Planck particles), and has a mass of about a millionth of a gram (10-6 gm). There is of the order of 1040 tons of tension on a massive superstring, which is a string whose ends move at the speed of light. Superstrings can twist, spin, turn, vibrate, tie and untie under the principle of least action. This way various properties are derived. Gravity, for example, is accounted for by closing the string into a loop, where fermions and bosons each run in opposite directions around the loop.
Now the latest twist is the massive superstring theory. Massive superstrings exactly match the
properties of the aforementioned grains of the firmament, the Planck particles. The mass of a
massive superstring is 2.18 x 10-5 grams, its density is 3.6 x 1093 gm/cm3. It has a charge of 10
and a temperature of 1.42 x 1032 K. Each of these quantities is expressible in terms of the
fundamental constants, namely, the speed of light, c, the gravitational constant, G, Planck's
constant, h, and Boltzmann's constant, k.note 5 With massive superstrings, physics has come to
the very doorstep of understanding the firmament.
Notes and References
L = (h G/c3)1/2 = 1.616040 x 10-33 cm
t = (h G/c5)1/2 = 5.390528 x 10-44 sec
m = (h c/G)1/2 = 2.176570 x 10-5 gm
T = (h c5/G)1/2/k = 1.416859 x 1032 K.
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Last modified on 19 July, 2000 /