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Java EE—the Most Lightweight Enterprise Framework? For a more accessible and less technical introduction to this topic, see Introduction to M-theory. String theory is a broad and varied subject that attempts to address a number of deep questions of fundamental physics. String theory was first studied in the late 1960s as a theory of the strong nuclear force, before being abandoned in favor of quantum chromodynamics. Subsequently, it was realized that the very properties that made string theory unsuitable as a theory of nuclear physics made it a promising candidate for a quantum theory of gravity. One of the challenges of string theory is that the full theory does not have a satisfactory definition in all circumstances. Another issue is that the theory is thought to describe an enormous landscape of possible universes, and this has complicated efforts to develop theories of particle physics based on string theory.

A diagram indicating the relationships between M, the exact properties of this particle are not fixed by the theory but should ultimately be derived from a more fundamental theory such as string theory. The fundamental objects of string theory are open and closed string models. In this framework, the resulting spacetime looks like a solid cylinder. Yet this modeled only bosons; entropy is a measure of the randomness or disorder of a physical system.

A wavy open segment and closed loop of string. The fundamental objects of string theory are open and closed string models. In the twentieth century, two theoretical frameworks emerged for formulating the laws of physics. The first is Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, a theory that explains the force of gravity and the structure of space and time. In spite of these successes, there are still many problems that remain to be solved. One of the deepest problems in modern physics is the problem of quantum gravity.

String theory is a theoretical framework that attempts to address these questions and many others. One of the main developments of the past several decades in string theory was the discovery of certain “dualities”, mathematical transformations that identify one physical theory with another. Physicists studying string theory have discovered a number of these dualities between different versions of string theory, and this has led to the conjecture that all consistent versions of string theory are subsumed in a single framework known as M-theory. Studies of string theory have also yielded a number of results on the nature of black holes and the gravitational interaction. There are certain paradoxes that arise when one attempts to understand the quantum aspects of black holes, and work on string theory has attempted to clarify these issues. Since string theory incorporates all of the fundamental interactions, including gravity, many physicists hope that it fully describes our universe, making it a theory of everything. The scattering of strings is most straightforwardly defined using the techniques of perturbation theory, but it is not known in general how to define string theory nonperturbatively.