Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

A Note from the Editor

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

A Note from the Editor

Article excerpt

IN THIS ISSUE

Modern physics is mind-bending. Black holes, wormholes, quantum uncertainty, superstrings, the Big Bang, time travel, multiple worlds, multiple universes -- the concepts discussed by our authors in this issue are sometimes almost impossible to accept, given that they often seem counter to our limited perceptions of reality. Even something as well-tested and experimentally proven as the fact that time slows the faster one travels is hard to grasp, especially for those of us who can never hope to understand the complex language of mathematical equations that physicists use every day.

Still I love to read about the discoveries that continue to revolutionize our view of the way reality works. In this issue we wanted to have our authors talk about both the large and the small of it: from cosmology on the grand scale to the search for the most fundamental way the universe works on the subatomic, quantum level, a level that we may never actually "see" at all. In truth, of course, one cannot separate "big" from "little" in physics, because the search for a Grand Unified Theory involves trying to marry the bizarre world of quantum physics with the slightly less bizarre world of the universe that we can see. Needless to say, any treatment of these fields can only scratch the surface of the astounding things that serious physicists are exploring each day. But we hope that this issue provides an interesting look into their explorations.

William Hiscock leads off by exploring the plausibility of some of our most cherished science fiction conceits: wormholes, warp drive, and time travel. Professor Hiscock shows how physicists use such extreme concepts to push their theories to their limits, to see just what is possible and what is not. His verdict? A definite maybe, though not likely, for most of our science-fiction fantasies.

Next, Michio Kaku helps us understand one of the most exciting recent developments in the quest for the Unified Theory: M-Theory. M-Theory is an extension of string theory, which has fallen in and out of favor with theoretical physicists for several decades now. As Professor Kaku explains, M-Theory may be able to unify the various competing versions of string theory, as well as other, similar theories, and at some point lead to the completion of our understanding of the way the universe works on its most fundamental level -- if we are indeed clever enough to figure it all out. …

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