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Q & A: string theory and "spark of life"

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Most recent answer: 01/04/2012
Q:
If physicists using string theory succeed in bringing together quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of relativity into a theory of everything, will physicists then be able to create the mathematics that will define the first spark of life in the Universe?
- Frank Owen (age 19)
River Falls, WI USA
A:
I'm not sure if you mean "spark of life" as in "getting the universe started" or as in "getting life started in the universe".

Maybe string theory will help show how our universe got started, by giving a way to understand how it connects with some broader manifold. You could sort of picture that as showing "what was before the Big Bang".

String theory will have nothing to say about how life got started in our universe. It may have something to say about how there could happen to be a universe with the right physical properties for life to exist. (See, for example Lenny Susskind's book The Cosmic Landscape.)

Mike W.

(published on 01/04/2012)

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