Bender examines string theory and stirs up some interesting notions.
The author, a well-versed amateur theoretical physicist, is an enthusiastic guide to the complex world of string theory, a world full of caveats–conflicting and alternative theories abound, and defining equations have yet to be written because experimentation is beyond human capacity. But that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t intriguing, and Bender embarks with all the eagerness–if not the ringing clarity–of Brian Greene. Initially drawn to string theory because of seeming incompatibilities between quantum mechanics and relativity, the author examines the realm of gravitationally isolated regions of spacetime, and how to overcome violations in our laws of inertia and mass so as to move through spacetime at unimaginable speeds without the time penalties of increased velocity (as time stays constant). He also explores the theoretical possibilities of a gravity-wave generator to power a vehicle within the isolated region. Such a ship would prove useful if the second of Bender’s proposals should bear out: the membrane theory of gravity. This theory suggests that gravity is created by vibrating strings stretching the membrane–the sheets formed by the interaction of the strings–to which they are attached. A collision of these membranes may have given rise to our universe, and it’s possible that there is another side to the membrane into which we could travel–a concept similar to that of traveling through a wormhole. The author also offers a hypothesis for the end of the universe. Despite his love for string theory–and the infinite possibilities inherent in the subject–some of Bender’s theories could be fleshed out a bit more, and augmented with a meatier bibliography (two entries are culled from Wikipedia).
A fertile physics funhouse for the highly curious and motivated lay reader.