The Official String Theory Web Site:--> History :--> A brief history of string theory




Here is a very brief outline of the development of string theory, the details of which will eventually fill many large volumes written by many people directly and indirectly involved in this rich and fascinating story.

1921 Kaluza-Klein
  Electromagnetism can be derived from gravity in a unified theory if there are four space dimensions instead of three, and the fourth is curled into a tiny circle. Kaluza and Klein made this discovery independently of each other.
1970 String theory is born
  Three particle theorists independently realize that the dual theories developed in 1968 to describe the particle spectrum also describe the quantum mechanics of oscillating strings. This marks the official birth of string theory.
1971 Supersymmetry
  Supersymmetry is invented in two contexts at once: in ordinary particle field theory and as a consequence of introducing fermions into string theory. It holds the promise of resolving many problems in particle theory, but requires equal numbers of fermions and bosons, so it cannot be an exact symmetry of Nature.
1974 Gravitons
  String theory using closed strings fails to describe hadronic physics because the spin 2 excitation has zero mass. Oops, that makes it an ideal candidate for the missing theory of quantum gravity!! This marks the advent of string theory as a proposed unified theory of all four observed forces in Nature.
1976 Supergravity
  Supersymmetry is added to gravity, making supergravity. This progress is especially important to string theory, where gravity can't be separated from the spectrum of excitations.
1980 Superstrings
  String theory plus supersymmetry yields an excitation spectrum that has equal numbers of fermions and bosons, showing that string theory can be made totally supersymmetric. The resulting objects are called superstrings.
1984 The Big Year
  This was the year for string theory! Deadly anomalies that threatened to make the theory senseless were discovered to cancel each other when the underlying symmetries in the theory belong two special groups. Finally string theory is accepted by the mainstream physics community as an actual candidate theory uniting quantum mechanics, particle physics and gravity.
The Duality Revolution
  Interesting work on stringy black holes in higher dimensions leads to a revolution in understanding how different versions of string theory are related through duality transformations. This unlocks a surge of progress towards a deeper nonperturbative picture of string theory.
1996 Black hole entropy
  Using Einstein relativity and Hawking radiation, there were hints in the past that black holes have thermodynamic properties that need to be understood microscopically. A microscopic origin for black hole thermodynamics is finally achieved in string theory. String theory sheds amazing light on the entire perplexing subject of black hole quantum mechanics.

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