The Official String Theory Web Site:--> Basics -->Particles and relativity (basic / advanced)

The story so far... particles and relativity
. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Newton's mathematical description of motion using calculus and his model for the gravitational force were extended very successfully to the emerging science and technology of electromagnetism. Calculus evolved into classical field theory.
. Once electromagnetic fields were thoroughly described using mathematics, many physicists felt that the field was finished, that there was nothing left to describe or explain.
. Then the electron was discovered, and particle physics was born. Through the mathematics of quantum mechanics and experimental observation, it was deduced that all known particles fell into one of two classes: bosons or fermions. Bosons are particles that transmit forces. Many bosons can occupy the same state at the same time. This is not true for fermions, only one fermion can occupy a given state at a given time, and this is why fermions are the particles that make up matter. This is why solids can't pass through one another, why we can't walk through walls -- because of Pauli repulsion -- the inability of fermions (matter) to share the same space the way bosons (forces) can.
. While particle physics was developing with quantum mechanics, increasing observational evidence indicated that light, as electromagnetic radiation, travelled at one fixed speed (in a vacuum) in every direction, according to every observer. This discovery and the mathematics that Einstein developed to describe it and model it in his Special Theory of Relativity, when combined with the later development of quantum mechanics, gave birth to the rich subject of relativistic quantum field theory. Relativistic quantum field theory is the foundation of our present theoretical ability to describe the behavior of the subatomic particles physicists have been observing and studying in the latter half of the 20th century.
. But Einstein then extended his Special Theory of Relativity to encompass Newton's theory of gravitation, and the result, Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, brought the mathematics called differential geometry into physics.
. General relativity has had many observational successes that proved its worth as a description of Nature, but two of the predictions of this theory have staggered the public and scientific imaginations: the expanding Universe, and black holes. Both have been observed, and both encapsulate issues that, at least in the mathematics, brush up against the very nature of reality and existence.

<< Previous

Next >>

electron-positron annihilation and creation
The particle view of nature is a description that works exceedingly well to describe three of the four observed forces of nature

Black Holes
Curved spacetime
The geometric view of nature works very well for describing gravity at astronomical distance scales

What is theoretical physics? // Particles and relativity // Why strings? // What is string theory? // How many are there?
How are string theories related? // Is there a more fundamental theory?

home/ basics/ math/ experiment/ cosmology/ black holes/ people/ history/ theatre/ links/ blog/