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How do the formations of strings in string theory differ in different elementary particles?

How do the formations of strings in string theory differ in different elementary particles? Are they different in length or shape or quantity?
Nicholas Wiseman from Greater London (Aged 5-14)

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One Response

  1. Nicholas,

    This is good question. Before attempting to provide an answer, I should give a disclaimer: the quantum world is very unintuitive and difficult to picture. When thinking about strings, it can be useful to picture them as being like pieces of string but this picture will only get us so far.

    As for your question, there are two “types” of string – open and closed. All this means is that one is like a piece of string in a sense, and the other is like a loop of string with the ends attatched.

    As for how particles come about, picture plucking a guitar string. The ends of the string are fixed, so vibrations must respect this and have them fixed. However, there are different “modes”.

    One of these is having the centre of the string moving up and down, with the rest of the string looking like an arch that oscillates. Another is having the centre of the string fixed at the same level as the ends and the rest of the string forming an S shape (on its side). There are in theory an infinite number of these modes (at least for our guitar string) and it is these modes that correspond to different particles.

    Hope this makes sense to you – it’s not easy to discribe without drawing a picture.

    Jo Benjamin
    Elementary Particle Theory MSc Student

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