Ultra-Cold Gases Offer Window Into Extra Dimensions, According to New Theory

A nice but fatally flawed idea.

By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD

A lot of the problems with string theory reduce to the fact that we don’t really have a way to verify or falsify its predictions. Key to string theory is the existence of, well, strings, which amount to tiny coiled-up bonus dimensions extending beyond the four that we all know and love. Unfortunately, these strings are so small, about 10–35 meters, that even the most powerful particle colliders imaginable wouldn’t be able to offer a glimpse.

But, still, there are many that want to believe. Enter physicists Sergio Gutiérrez, Abel Camacho, and Héctor Hernández of Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa in Mexico City. The trio posted a paper late last month to the arXiv preprint server suggesting that it may be possible to detect extra dimensions by using Bose-Einstein condensates as windows of sorts.

Bose-Einstein condensates are pretty neat. The basic idea is that if you cool a bunch of particles way, way down, they start acting like one great big particle. The upshot is that the quantum effects normally seen at subatomic scales can be experienced at relatively macro scales.

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