In brief: A tiny, tunable well of light, and a string theorist's toolbox

Sep 21, 2009
A novel design for a tunable source of infrared light relies on electrons fired into a tiny hole drilled through a stack of alternating gold and silica layers. Credit: Credit: G. Adamo, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton

Promising photonic devices, and theorists attempt to determine whether particle physics and string theory can be reconciled.

A Tiny, Tunable Well of Light

, the science of using photons to carry information, promises to continue improving a wide variety of technologies, from computing to high-speed communication.

Now an international team of researchers from the UK, Taiwan, and Spain have discovered a compact way to produce infrared light, by firing electrons through a miniscule tunnel in a stack of gold and layers.

The tiny, tunable light source could be the predecessor of a new component for light-based chips. The device is outlined in and highlighted with a Synopsis in the September 21, 2009 issue of Physics.

More information: Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 113901 (2009); http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.113901

A Toolbox for String Theorists

A new toolkit of equations will help theorists determine whether a promising agreement between particle physics and is fact or fancy. The research is reported in Physical Review Letters and accompanied by a Viewpoint in the September 21, 2009 issue of Physics.

Physicists long for a single theory to describe the universe, but so far can't shoehorn Einstein's gravity and into one elegant mathematical box. In 1997, a physicist named Juan Maldacena raised hopes of unification by proposing that the four-dimensional kingdom of a specific quantum theory was merely the border of a five-dimensional spacetime ruled by string theory. The possible harmony tantalized string theorists, but eluded proof, because the two theories were almost impossible to compare.

Now Nikolay Gromov, Vladimir Kazakov, and Pedro Vieira have assembled a hefty toolbox of equations to help the thwarted string theorists tackle the question. With these tools in hand, theorists can measure the predictions of string theory against a slew of the quantum theory's results with unprecedented ease, placing them closer to finding out if Maldacena's idea is rock solid or the stuff of dreams.

More information: Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 131601 (2009); link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.131601

Source: American Physical Society

Explore further: Researchers demonstrate ultra low-field nuclear magnetic resonance using Earth's magnetic field

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The New New Math of String Theory

Jun 20, 2006

At the beginning of the last century, Albert Einstein posited a now famous theory that forever linked geometry and fundamental physics. According to general relativity, spacetime is curved, and that curvature ...

Physicists Develop Test for 'String Theory'

Jan 23, 2007

For decades, scientists have taken issue with “string theory”—a theory of the universe which contends that the fundamental forces and matter of nature can be reduced to tiny one-dimensional filaments called strings—because ...

String Theory's Next Top Model

Oct 25, 2007

Ernest Rutherford used to tell his physics students that if they couldn't explain a concept to a barmaid, they didn't really understand the concept. With regard to the cosmological implications of string theory, ...

Unravelling the random fluctuations of nothing

Aug 02, 2007

The dream of theoretical physics is to unite behind a common theory that explains everything, but that goal has remained highly elusive. String theory emerged 40 years ago as one of the most promising candidates for such ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RayCherry
not rated yet Sep 21, 2009
Is convential physics hanging by a thread, or is this just another (TOE) nail in the coffin?
holoman
not rated yet Sep 21, 2009
called a nano wiggler.
Alexa
not rated yet Sep 21, 2009
Why two different articles are merged together?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2009
Why two different articles are merged together?

Someone didn't notice the difference between 131601 and 131901.
Alexa
not rated yet Sep 22, 2009
Yep, this is a clever explanation...
Mr_Man
not rated yet Sep 22, 2009
I kind of thought this article would be a bit longer and more informative... Seems silly to try and explain advances in String Theory in 6 small paragraphs.
Alexa
not rated yet Sep 22, 2009
...whereas 2 ough to be enough for anybody.