In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified.
M-Theory | |
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Category |
Theory Of Quantum Mechanics |
Related Topics |
Supersymmetry Supergravity Quantum gravity |
This idea is the unique supersymmetric theory in eleven dimensions, with its low-entropy matter content and interactions fully determined, and can be obtained as the strong coupling limit of type IIA string theory because a new dimension of space emerges as the coupling constant increases. Drawing on the work of a number of string theorists (including Ashoke Sen, Chris Hull, Paul Townsend, Michael Duff and John Schwarz), Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study suggested its existence at a conference at USC in 1995, and used M-theory to explain a number of previously observed dualities, initiating a flurry of new research in string theory called the second superstring revolution. In the early 1990s it was shown that the various superstring theories were related by dualities which allow the description of an object in one super string theory to be related to the description of a different object in another super string theory. These relationships imply that each of the super string theories is a different aspect of a single underlying theory, proposed by Witten, and named "M-theory". Originally the letter M in M-theory was taken from membrane, a construct designed to generalize the strings of string theory. However, as Witten was more skeptical about membranes than his colleagues, he opted for "M-theory" rather than "Membrane theory". Witten has since stated that the interpretation of the M can be a matter of taste for the user of the name; an example of this would be M standing for mother as described by Michio Kaku. M-theory (and string theory) has been criticized for lacking predictive power or being untestable. Further work continues to find mathematical constructs that join various surrounding theories. However, the tangible success of M-theory can be questioned, given its current incompleteness and limited predictive power.