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  • Jimmy Broccoli

String Theory

Hi All

A little over two years ago the library district I work for began asking employees (slightly over 300) what we were reading. I found/find the question silly because, with life as busy as it is and with people self-absorbed, as we are - do we really care what someone else is reading? Really? I may only be speaking for myself, but the title (and details) of what someone else is reading is very unimportant in my life if no factors contribute to my potential personal interest (for example, a recommended book on grieving may be of interest if I am grieving, but would not be of interest if I am not and do not currently know someone else who is grieving - or, if I love the writings of James Patterson, I may take notice of other reader's thoughts on it).

So, for the past two years, whenever the question of "what are you reading" is posed, I propose I am reading the most ridiculous (ridiculous because I do not have the background education to understand them) books with the most complicated subjects. I think this is fun, though everyone may not share my sense of humor or get the joke.

A little over a year ago I posted I was reading, "The Physics of God: Unifying Quantum Physics, Consciousness, M-Theory, Heaven, Neuroscience, and Transcendence (by Joseph Selbie). With my post-graduate studies in library information science and computer information systems, any assumption that I would remotely understand any of the above concepts is ludicrous - unless you are a colleague who doesn't get the joke and believes my post.

Two days after making this very casual post, a fellow library employee emails me a very excited notation - her husband is a theoretical physicist and she is certain he would be interested in hearing my thoughts on m-theory, string theory, etc. My initial reaction (in my own head) included a few four-letter words because I didn't know how to respond. "It's all bullshit, ha ha ha" wasn't the direction I wished to go - so I decided to double-down on my claim. I responded, "I'd love to meet with you husband. Perhaps for lunch. I would love to hear his thoughts on these subjects as well".

So, what did I do as someone with a heavy background in research and with a very unrealistic sense of optimism (?) - I started ordering books that dealt with these subjects. When I didn't understand any of them, I ordered "String Theory For Dummies" (it exists) and didn't understand the third sentence of the Introduction. So - I began watching videos on YouTube - not research, but educational.

Unpredictably (because my interest in these topics was, initially, bullshit), within the following days, I became very interested in Super-String Theory and, without the mathematical background or additional appropriate background education, I delved into the subject in every way I could.

Here it is - a year later (and my colleague's husband and I never found the time to meet - how disappointing! ) - and I find this topic fascinating. I have absolutely no interest in returning to school to study advanced calculus (or, even basic calculus), but I, as a lay-person, find these topics interesting. And, strangely, my interest was peaked by an initial untruth for the purpose of humor.

Over the past 12 months I have watched dozens and dozens of videos attempting to explain string theory (and theories that piggyback on it) and I have several favorites. But - it's Facebook and, if you've made it this far in the post (9 paragraphs), you're a superstar - and really really rare in the world of social media. I find it unlikely your patience will continue for another hour or two - so I offer an 8 minute video that is kind of amazing.

Here is a video about string theory, produced and funded by the Swedish National Science Foundation, that simplifies String Theory better than many other videos on the Internet in such a short period of time.

So, here is Dr. Alessandro Sfondrini with an amazing 8 minute video on a very complicated topic. And, it's kind of awesome. I hope you enjoy it!

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