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A Sense of Scale: String Theory

  • By Peter Tyson
  • Posted 10.28.03
  • NOVA

The strings of string theory are unimaginably small. Your average string, if it exists, is about 10-33 centimeters long. That's a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter. If an atom were magnified to the size of the solar system, a string would be the size of a tree. In this feature, we try to give you a vague sense—for that is all that’s possible—of just how infinitesimally tiny a string is. Starting at an everyday scale, we travel by powers of 100 down into a string’s shadowy world. You’ll have to forgive us for taking a kind of visual poetic licence in imagining what the world looks like smaller than a quark.

Launch Interactive

Starting at an everyday scale, travel by powers of 100 down into the infinitesimally itsy-bitsy world of strings.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program The Elegant Universe.

Credits

Photos

(Apple, apple cells)
© Corbis Images
(Einstein)
© Betmann/Corbis

Illustrations

© WGBH Educational Foundation

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