Could the Universe be tied up with cosmic string?

January 18, 2008

A team of physicists and astronomers at the University of Sussex and Imperial College London have uncovered hints that there may be cosmic strings - lines of pure mass-energy - stretching across the entire Universe.

Cosmic strings are predicted by high energy physics theories, including superstring theory. This is based on the idea that particles are not just little points, but tiny vibrating bits of string Cosmic strings are predicted to have extraordinary amounts of mass - perhaps as much as the mass of the Sun - packed into each metre of a tube whose width is less a billion billionth of the size of an atom.

Lead researcher Dr Mark Hindmarsh, Reader in Physics at the University of Sussex, said: "This is an exciting result for physicists. Cosmic strings are relics of the very early Universe and signposts that would help construct a theory of all forces and particles."

His team took data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which is a satellite currently mapping the intensity of cosmic microwaves from all directions, and carefully compared the predictions of what should be seen with and without strings.

Dr Hindmarsh said: "We cannot yet see these strings directly. They are many billion light years away. We can only look for indirect evidence of their existence through precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background, of cosmic rays, gravitational radiation, and looking for double images of distant quasars."

The four-person team are members of COSMOS, the UK's world-leading cosmology supercomputing consortium fronted by Stephen Hawking. Using a Silicon Graphics supercomputer they made predictions of how the strings would affect the Cosmic Microwave Background, relic radio waves from the Big Bang which fill the universe. It turned out that the best explanation for the pattern of this radiation was a theory which included strings.

Dr Hindmarsh said that better data is required before the existence of cosmic strings can be confirmed. He hopes this will be produced by the European Space Agency's Planck Satellite mission (due for launch this year).

The results are published in Physical Review Letters on 18 January, 2008.

Source: University of Sussex

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2.7 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2008
"lines of pure mass-energy"

What is that suppose to mean?! What else is there? Is there such a thing as impure mass-energy!?

I like their approach.

I'm curious about how "knot theory" would tie into string theory.

The comment about the mass of the sun reduced below atomic sizes is quite shocking however. I look forward to an elaboration of such.
2 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2008
pure as an continuous, no gaps.
2 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2008
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2008
I wonder if Schrodinger's cat plays with a ball of cosmic string? :-)
1 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2008
David, in essence, yes. :)
1 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2008
no in quintessence
Jan 19, 2008
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1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2008
i think this string theory will become a major break through in a histroy of science. if it is proved that cosmic strings are building block of this universe then there can be unification of all four forces governing the universe. the two theory basicaly general relativity that deals with gravity and quantam mechanics that deals with minute particles can never exist together may be these cosmic string theory may combine these two theory and hence we can hav one law major law that govern all the propertires of universe from heavenly bodies to atom and nucleus, which was the major dream albert einstien. let us think in this way that all the particles r made up cosmic strings which vibrate with different frequency (we can calculate this frequency by beta and gamma function) and so we get different objects. for ex:- all ball and a bat both made up of same cosmic strings but because both vibarate in differnt frequency we see one set of cosmic strings as ball and one set of cosmic strings as bat.
3 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2008
Sorry, rkv. Theories cannot be proved by any amount of observation or experiments. Theories can only be falsified by counter examples.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2008
dear billyswong then give some counter example.
1 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2008
For example this one, where string theory predicts the violation of ISL for gravity, which doesn't occur even under most thorough experiments, albeit their precision fall into limits, predicted by string theory.

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