Friday, January 15, 2010

What is M-Theory?

What is now known as "the second superstring revolution" took place in 1995 following publication of a paper by its acknowledged leading proponent, Edward Witten.

Up to this, a well recognised problem with string theory was the lack of one unique theory. In fact five - seemingly - separate theories existed referred to as type I, types IIA and IIB and two heterotic (hybrid) string theories.

The hope at the time was that just one of these would eventually win out to qualify as the long sought for TOE.

However Witten was to surprise the string community by demonstrating very close links as between all the existing theories and postulated that they were in fact part of on an even grander synthesis (M-theory).

He also argued that this overarching theory would find expression in an 11 - rather than 10 - dimensional framework.

Now of course, I am by no means qualified to deal with the analytic issues involved.

My purpose is rather to point to the integral (holistic) scientific significance of such developments.

From the holistic perspective, no single unique interpretation of reality can be given. Rather - as we have seen - a distinct interpretation can be associated with each number (as dimension) so that potentially an infinite no. of possible interpretations exist.

However, we have argued that in practice only a small finite number of such explanations are especially relevant.

Indeed remarkably - though perhaps coincidental - we can distinguish 5 such interpretative models (for which I have already given a simple mathematical justification in "The Number 24").

These five models coincide with 1, 2, 4, 8, and 24-dimensional holistic interpretation respectively.

Even before I heard anything regarding M-theory, I had referred to the first 4, as Type 0 (this 1st type - which represents linear understanding - is inherently unsuited to true integral appreciation; hence the use of 0), Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 Integration respectively. Only recently - largely through making connections with string theory - have I given proper consideration to the 5th which could be designated as Type 4. So even my very designation of the various holistic interpretations bears similarity with the corresponding analytic treatment in string theory!

Each of the integral interpretations therefore offers a certain unique qualitative perspective with respect to the "same" reality. Though the higher dimensional perspectives are by their very nature more refined in holistic terms, they also suffer in that they are likewise further removed from analytic type consideration.

So there is an inevitable "Uncertainty Principle" at work. In other words the more accurately defined one's qualitative holistic interpretation of reality, the less amenable it becomes to any specific kind of phenomenal analysis.

Of course the reverse is true with respect to conventional string theories. Therefore the more exact such analytic theories become in terms of successfully explaining the nature of physical reality, the less amenable they become to any kind of holistic intuitive understanding.
Indeed this is already readily apparent with string theorists quite unable to provide in qualitative terms an adequate philosophical perspective of what their world view entails.

This therefore would lead one to be very sceptical regarding the true nature of this so-called M-theory. In many ways the M most accurately stands for mirage for it is pointing to a reality (which greatly exceeds the explanatory limits of the standard 1-dimensional model of interpretation).

Even the finding that we now need 11 rather than 10 dimensions points to this fact. As I have stated in corresponding holistic terms, the need for an extra dimension implies an admission that the current level of psychological intuition is inadequate to appropriate the nature of the reality investigated.
So likewise in analytic terms the need for 11 dimensions implies that some key element is missing in terms of conventional scientific understanding.

Reality at its most fundamental physical level requires going below the Planck length.

However though enormously important in terms of any ultimate understanding, eventually it becomes impossible to meaningfully deal with such reality in a detached objective manner.

Likewise from the holistic perspective at very high levels of spiritual integration, dynamic interaction with respect to phenomena becomes so rapid that they no longer even appear to arise in experience.

And this is the essential point! Science - which always requires a degree of detachment from the environment - can only deal with phenomenal appearances (from both analytic and holistic perspectives).

So in the end science (with respect to either aspect) can only deal with secondary phenomenal appearances and thereby cannot directly probe essential reality.

We can only approximate experience of such reality (that ultimately is experientially attained in complete unity and emptiness). However appearances will always remain necessary in dynamically approximating reality and thereby realising the true secret of this all important game (which we know as life itself).

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