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. 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 _____.

2. According to general relativity, all objects that have mass have what effect on space-time?

3. The wave-like nature of the electron means that after a collision, _____.

4. Which of the following is true of a particle's spin?

5. What type of a wave is light?

Short Essay Questions

1. State Newton's law of gravity.

2. Describe the "equivalence principle", which relates acceleration and gravitational force.

3. Suppose that two objects are exerting a gravitational pull on each other, when one suddenly moves a large distance further away from the other object. Describe the impact of this event according to general relativity.

4. 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?

5. Describe Max Planck's solution to the infinite-energy problem.

6. What are the two main theories on which modern physics is based? At what scales are they accurate or inaccurate? Give at least one example of a circumstance in which both theories would need to be employed.

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

8. What is the relationship between light, electricity, and magnetism?

9. Describe the structure of an atom.

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The Most Famous Equation

Einstein's famous equation, E=mc^2 was not actually published in his original papers on relativity. It was a minor note in a clarification written later, but its importance was instantly recognized. Today, it is the most famous and recognizable equation in the world, and is used almost as a garnish to any depiction of scientific work. This essay is about the discovery and applications of this famous equation.

Part 1) What does the equation mean? What does each component represent, and what is the underlying principle that the equation embodies?

Part 2) How was this equation discovered? Explain in detail how it is related to general relativity and how it indicates that no object with mass can move at exactly the speed of light.

Part 3) Explain some of the implications of this equation. How can its effects be observed in everyday life? How would our world be different if we were ignorant of this equation?

Essay Topic 2

The Conflict of the Century

Between quantum mechanics and general relativity, almost any phenomenon in the universe can be explained and understood, but for physicists, this is not enough. It has long been known that these theories conflict with one another, and that therefore, neither of them can be exactly correct. The search for a single unifying theory that can reconcile these two branches of science is ongoing. String theory is just one of the many solutions that has been suggested, but it has lasted the longest and sustained the most scrutiny.

Part 1) Describe the conflicts between quantum mechanics and general relativity. How and where do these theories become mutually incomprehensible? Provide as many examples of these conflicts as possible.

Part 2) Research and describe some of the efforts to unify these fields, apart from string theory. How are these problems approached, and how successful have these theories been?

Part 3) Describe string theory's approach to resolving these conflicts. How does this approach differ from the others discussed above, and how successful has string theory been compared with these others?

Essay Topic 3

The Extra Dimensions

It turns out that string theory depends upon the existence of six extra dimensions. This is a seemingly impossible proposition, but it is in fact entirely reasonable for our universe to have extra dimensions of which we are not aware. This is a feature almost unique to string theory, and it has important implications.

Part 1) Describe the history of theories of extra dimensions, particularly the Kaluza-Klein theory. What important things did these theories achieve, and why were these theories abandoned? Why does string theory require these dimensions?

Part 2) Explain what is meant by extra dimensions. How does our world interface with these dimensions, and why can we not observe them in everyday life? Provide examples that illustrate how small dimensions work, and why they can go unnoticed.

Part 3) Why are extra dimensions important in the field of string theory? Do their number, size, and shape have any importance or are they arbitrary? How many dimensions does string theory predict, and is it possible for one or more dimensions to be an extra dimension of time?

(see the answer keys)

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