From the Editor; May 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by Mariette DiChristina; 1 Page(s)
Physicists have been struggling for decades to unify quantum mechanics, which corrals the particle flock, with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which sculpts space and time. They’ve come at it with various approaches, including string theory, but it remains stubbornly intractable. Yet—taking a common tactic that physicists use to break apart complex challenges—what if we simplified the problem?
They’ve now come to a whole new understanding of quantum particles that enormously eases the task. A hypothetical particle, the “graviton,” shapes spacetime, bringing unity to the two theories at last. For a fascinating armchair journey through a different kind of spacetime, check out this issue’s cover story, “Loops, Trees and the Search for New Physics,” by Zvi Bern, Lance J. Dixon and David A. Kosower.