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

Brian Greene
This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately 185 pages of tests, essay questions, lessons, and other teaching materials.
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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 would an outside observer notice about an object moving near the speed of light?

2. Which of the following best describes a fermion?

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

4. Quantum chromodynamics concerns quantum mechanics and ____.

5. According to special relativity, which of the following can move faster than light?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are super-partners?

2. Describe the symmetry between the electromagnetism and the weak force that is predicted by quantum electroweak theory.

3. What is the relationship between wavelength, frequency, and a wave's minimum energy?

4. 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.

5. How many string theories are there and how did there come to be multiple theories?

6. What are the messenger particles of the strong and weak force, and what function do they perform?

7. 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.

8. What are strings composed of?

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

10. What are some of the difficulties in confirming string theory experimentally?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Symmetry Through the Universe

The "super" in "superstring theory" comes from the theory of supersymmetry, which itself derives from the easily intelligible principle of symmetry, which is ubiquitous in science. A physical law has symmetry if it is applied equally to any point in space or time. Supersymmetry is an expansion of that principle, and it provides string theory with a unique capability.

Part 1) Describe the nature of symmetry in the scientific field, and give some examples of laws which obey symmetry. Provide imaginary counter-examples that demonstrate the chaotic and unpredictable nature of laws that do not have symmetry.

Part 2) Describe supersymmetry, and explain the property of "spin" associated with elementary particles, and how it applies to the theory. Describe attempts to prove supersymmetry experimentally.

Part 3) What is the advantage when supersymmetry is incorporated into string theory? Describe the predictive and explanatory power that string theory gains through this in detail.

Essay Topic 2

The Calabi-Yau Space

The shape of the extra dimensions in our world turns out to be critical to the properties and physical laws that we observe every day. The particular shape of these spaces has been determined to be a Calabi-Yau shape, a class of exotic multi-dimensional shapes.

Part 1) Describe the importance of the shape of the extra dimensions. Why is this importance only relevant to string theory? What would the effects be if these shapes were different?

Part 2) Use descriptions from the book to explain the nature of Calabi-Yau spaces. What unusual characteristics do they have? What would it be like to move through such a space?

Part 3) Explain some of the work that has been done to relate the shape of the Calabi-Yau space to properties of particles in our universe. How is the shape of the Calabi-Yau space studied and improved? What are some shortcomings of this method?

Essay Topic 3

The Big Crunch

Due to the far-reaching space-warping effects of gravity, it turns out that there is a specific critical density to our universe that determines in what way the universe will end. This density is still largely unknown, although it appears that we are close to the critical density. Disturbingly, observations of the known universe have shown that visible matter makes up only about 23% of the necessary mass. The difference is made up by dark matter and dark energy.

Part 1) Describe how gravity shapes our universe at very large scales. How does the density of the universe determine its ultimate fate?

Part 2) One possible ending of the universe is that the density is too great, and the universe will collapse. Describe how this collapse could occur, paying particular attention to the conclusions of string theory.

Part 3) Another possibility is the endless expansion of the universe due to low density. Describe the way that this could occur, thinking critically about what it means for space to expand at an increasing rate.

(see the answer keys)

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