The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest For… Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Brian Greene
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What type of motion cannot be felt or sensed by the moving observer?

2. What are the vibrational patterns that a string can exhibit called?

3. The advent of fermionic vibrational patterns resulted in the creation of _____.

4. Quantum physics began with the study of the energy inside a heated, closed container, such as an oven. The problem with theories at the time was that they predicted that _____.

5. What property did the double-slit experiment demonstrate that light has?

Short Essay Questions

1. Describe the relationship between the vibration of a string and the particle it represents, including the particle's mass and the tension, wavelength, and amplitude of the string.

2. According to Einstein's theory for the photoelectric effect, what is the relationship between the frequency of light and the electrons ejected by the metal?

3. State Newton's law of gravity.

4. Describe and explain the results of the two-slit experiment.

5. What are super-partners?

6. In physics, what is symmetry?

7. Referring to the experiment described in question Short Essay #6, what would the three observers see according to the theory of special relativity?

8. Describe a black hole, including some of its physical properties and methods by which it can be detected.

9. Three observers carry out an experiment. From the same starting point, they observe a beam of light move directly away from them. One observer stays at rest at the starting point. One observer "chases" the beam at half the speed of light. The last observer chases the beam at exactly the speed of light. Describe what these observers would note about the beam of light according to Newtonian (pre-relativity) physics and thinking.

10. List the four fundamental forces of the universe, their functions, and describe where and at what scales they are most commonly observed.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Strung Along

String theory is one of the most important physical theories of this century, and it has a mottled and unusual history. String theory has progressed in fits and starts since its strange inception, experiencing periods of boom and bust, but always moving forward. Part 1) Describe the early history of string theory, beginning with the accidental discovery by Gabriele Veneziano, up through the work of Schwarz and Scherk.

Part 2) Detail the history of the first and second "superstring revolutions". What set off these periods of intense study, what was achieved, and how did they end?

Part 3) Speculate why string theory has suffered periodic declines in the physics community. Use evidence from the book, or outside research to support your claims.

Essay Topic 2

Relativistic Relativity

Einstein is most famous for his two theories of relativity. It is sometimes said that special relativity would have been discovered in a few years without Einstein, but if it were not for him, the world would still be waiting for general relativity. These two theories are critical to modern physics and are used in important applications every day.

Part 1) Describe the discovery of the theory of special relativity. What thoughts caused Einstein to first contemplate this theory, and how did it develop. Explain the underlying principles of special relativity.

Part 2) Repeat the above analysis for the theory of general relativity.

Part 3) Compare and contrast the discoveries of these two theories. Make an assessment of which has been more important historically. Describe succinctly the difference between these theories.

Part 4) Research and describe some of the ways that each of these theories affect technology and ongoing physics research.

Essay Topic 3

A Cosmic Anomaly

Until a few years ago, concepts like "tears" in the fabric of space-time were purely science fiction. However, string theory has shown that these occurrences are possible. Part 1) Explain the concept of a tear in space-time. What does this tear represent, and how would it interact with its surroundings.

Part 2) Describe the discovery of space-tearing flop transitions. Describe conifold transitions. How and why do these transitions occur? How are the dangers of these tears prevented?

Part 3) It is possible that these kinds of tears could be created and manipulated at will. What are the possible uses and applications of these tears? Would their use be conscionable, given their apparent danger?

(see the answer keys)

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