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May 21st, 2009
Physics of Sound
Harmonics and The Unified Theory

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene, best known for his work on string theory, explains how music might have the answer we need to find a unified theory.

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Brian Greene: Albert Einstein dreamed of finding what he called a Unified Theory. By that he meant a single idea, a single principle, maybe even a single equation that might describe everything in the universe. He worked long and hard many decades to try to find the theory and he never did. Since his passing many physicists haven take up where he left off, and many of us believe then an approach called String Theory may be the Unified Theory that he was looking for. And the basic idea of the unified description of all matter is pretty straightforward. If you take any piece of material, say a piece of wood, cut it in half, cut it in half again, keep on cutting it to ever smaller pieces, the basic question is what’s the smallest piece that you get to? What is the finest uncuttable constituent? Now we all know if you cut fine enough you get molecules, if you cut them up, you get atoms, if you cut them up even further you get other particles, electrons going around the nucleus with neutrons and protons, even though the neutrons and protons are smaller entities called quarks. The conventional idea stopped there. String Theory comes along and says “There may be one more layer of structure: inside an electron, inside a quark, inside any particle you have heard of, according to these ideas, is a little tiny filament. Looks like a tiny little string, that’s why it’s called String Theory, and the little strings can vibrate in different patterns.”

So the idea is that, according to this theory an electron can be a string vibrating in one pattern. You can call it a middle C if you want, by the musical analogy, a quark could be a string vibrating at a different pattern like an A. So the difference between one particle and another is simply  the note that its string is playing. And this is the unified description that this theory puts forward: everything can be reduced to the notes these fundamental strings are playing. Now that’s metaphorical. There’s math behind this, that allows us to see all of the key elements of physics can find a home in this description, but in a nutshell that’s what this theory says.

  • Eugene Wolf

    This is why and how we can tune ourselves. An understanding of this in our bones and hearts and brains allows us to access our spirits and imagine where they might have come from. This is my religion.

  • allenda

    Explains how a particular frequency can heal or cause an alignment of that which has been broken…

  • Bluegreen

    The string theory does not explain what makes the string vibrate at certain frequencies to produce the diversity found in the universe, including man. To say it differently: what animates the body. It is not the brain.

  • hucbald

    This theory is called Platonicism. Plato (and Pythagoras before him) thought that the whole world could be explained by harmonic relations, and that the power of music resided it that it evidenced the simplest relations possible. M. Brian Greene dresses the idea in new clothes, but the King is still naked…

  • MAT

    “There are only two kinds of songs; there’s the blues, and there’s zip-a-dee-doo-dah.”
    Townes Van Zandt

  • Mehmet

    Maybe the king is not so naked after all – the idea that the universe is built on harmony may be old – but doesnt make it outdated. Observing around us “the raliance on harmony, for this system, the universe, is easily observed and undisputed”

    I believe this has to do with a really simple observation – dissonance is tension and stress and is not enduring where as harmony is constructive.

    This statemt is true both for music and matter.

    So a self constructing giant system had to rely on and come up with a harmony to have a succesfull sustainable existance.

    So the explanation to it all will resemble Music in the end…

    Or so I think anyways.

  • Michelle

    I am interested in this theory. I want to know what causes the strings to play at differing “notes”. Where is the energy from this coming from?

  • Eric

    The music of the spheres.

  • bbmac

    From the one generating from behind this one.

  • Mikel Greathouse

    the vibration comes from resonance and resonance comes from vibration. So lets say by laws of attraction clumping occurs and in that clumping vibration is caused by the clumping and if an object vibrates with compatibility then resonance occurs causing amplification which in turn causes more attraction which causes more clumping and so on……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Just a guess, but if you think about the vibrating string and how if you like the sound of it you are then attracted to that very sound. ROCK AND ROLL brothers and sisters is here to stay

  • Areya

    This is an excellent brief explanation of String Theory and I do believe that this is the theory that Einstein was looking for, the Theory of Everything. To me, it’s always been about frequencies. Frequencies make up everything; humans, objects, stars, planets, and galaxies. It makes perfect sense. It’s why plants and animals like classical music over more harsh music, why different sounds affect and alter the structure of molecules. This has been proven by Dr. Masaru Emoto and countless other scientists. This is also why we can enter different states of consciousness by singing, listening to meditative music, or chanting a mantra during meditation. Frequency 528 can repair DNA…the list goes on and on… Have fun, friends!

  • Jetti Harris

    http://www.jettiharris.com/
    AUTHOR: God’s Song: Published by Liberty University Press: 2010

    As a professionally and classically trained singer, I am fully aware of the tremendous amount of energy required to make a beautiful and focused vocal sound capable of filling a hall such as the Metropolitan Opera House with vibrating excitement. Imagine this amount of energy on an eternal and omniscient level, eminating from the very God Creator of the universes. Of course, the first cause, as Einstein put it, is to understand the cCONCEPT of first cause—or, in other words, the concept and reality of God AS Creator. It my sincere conviction that he, as a Jew, had that conviction firmly in place. Such eternal vibrating energy explosively produced by the Almighty God would make the “big bang” appear to be infinitesimally small.

    Robert Shaw, the great choral conductor, incessantly charged us with the necessity of discovering “truth in music”. Of course he never attempted to define it; he only insisted that it WAS. I believe that truth in music amounts to the fact that God Himself sang the universes into being as opposed to merely “speaking” them, as we have been taught in Sunday School for eons. The act of speaking carries only a tiny fragment of the energy necessity of singing—if the singing is done as God intended—without virtual or humanly produced amplification.

    String theorists have a special insight—-all matter is nothing more than “strings” of vibrating energy—the essence of song.

    Please visit my web-site and buy my book——available on Barnes & Noble on-line.

  • Jetti Harris

    http://www.jettiharris.com/
    AUTHOR: God’s Song: Published by Liberty University Press: 2010

    As a professionally and classically trained singer, I am fully aware of the tremendous amount of energy required to make a beautiful and focused vocal sound capable of filling a hall such as the Metropolitan Opera House with vibrating excitement. Imagine this amount of energy on an eternal and omniscient level, eminating from the very God Creator of the universes. Of course, the first cause, as Einstein put it, is to understand the CONCEPT of first cause—or, in other words, the concept and reality of God AS Creator. It my sincere conviction that he, as a Jew, had that conviction firmly in place. Such eternal vibrating energy explosively produced by the Almighty God would make the “big bang” appear to be infinitesimally small.

    Robert Shaw, the great choral conductor, incessantly charged us with the necessity of discovering “truth in music”. Of course he never attempted to define it; he only insisted that it WAS. I believe that truth in music amounts to the fact that God Himself sang the universes into being as opposed to merely “speaking” them, as we have been taught in Sunday School for eons. The act of speaking carries only a tiny fragment of the energy necessity of singing—if the singing is done as God intended—without virtual or humanly produced amplification.

    String theorists have a special insight—-all matter is nothing more than “strings” of vibrating energy—the essence of song.

    Please visit my web-site and buy my book——available on Barnes & Noble on-line.

  • Eloise Morgan

    This is an interesting concept and a very good start for explaining String Theory.
    Does anybody know where I might be able to find a resource that might cover this topic in a bit more depth than this two minute video does? I am no theoretical physicist but I am a musician; it would be great to see this in more detail, with the same ‘accessable’ quality this video possesses.
    Thanks!

  • Marat

    Dear Eloise,
    At the initial phase you may want to read The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene.
    Sincerely, Marat

  • http://www.nissansilverton.co.za/demoinfo.php?car=1693050 global nissan silverton

    Wow, amazing blog format! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you made running a blog look easy. The entire look of your site is fantastic, let alone the content!

  • Cody

    What makes people believe that there are these “strings” when there is no way to see them or prove that they exsist? Why do people belive that there are things smaller than quarks? Has anything proved that quarks aren’t the smallest thing?

  • Waylon

    If everything resonates at certain freqs. Like musical nortes or strings on guitar. If u produce a harmonic of that freq. , what would happen to the strings at certain points it wouldnt be subject to vibration if everything in made up of strings than gravity is to that might be why there five point bet wen the,earth and sun that arent subject to gravity like on a guitar string when you hit a natural harmonic note you can keep touching it and it wont stop ringing unaffected by touch if we could munipulate these narage zones or even connect what are the possibilities?

  • bootheven

    Isn’t it great how we can be on the verge of sussing out the universe without once referring to consciousness, perceptions, relativity and knowledge? As a musician I’m impressed. Middle C aye? Tiny vibrating strings… hmm. You have to admire these metaphors that scientists come up with – but they are hyperthetical – whether nature honours them is another thing.

  • Phillip Longo

    After reading many of these posts it became apparent to me that some of you take this seriously and others do not. I think individuals need to keep their personal demons at bay and remind themselves that the pursuit of answers/results are the key focus of these topics. I would contribute to this thread by saying that string theory should be titled “string hypothesis” until proven scientific equation and/or evidence can be provided to support this ideology. I am a novice to these subjects so educate me if I am wrong in anything I state below. Feel free to point me in the direction that would relate to factual and supportive evidence “laws of physics” which would determine that sonic vibrations on sub atomic levels are indeed a plausible construct of matter. I am open minded, but I find it difficult to believe that none (sound waves/frequencies) matter is a foundation (glue) of matter. In my mind sound is but a byproduct of elemental change between the environments of matter/mass. I believe string theory to be plausible only if the binder (atomic glue) is not without matter. Imagine this… A matter-less hand holding up a brick. That is impossible and ridicules. Gravity plays a role in everything in the universe we live in down to the atoms that form us. I dont believe that there is pure suspension of our physical realm/dimension. NOTHING can exist without motion or time. Energy exists because it has mass. For anything to “exist” it must have identifiable mass. If it does not, you cannot measure it, it would not produce frequency, it would not be energy. I would be so bold to conclude that a sub atomic “glue” or construct would be anti matter, something that is the polar opposite of energy and time -a void of existence inhabitable by energy itself therefore creating a “pattern” in which all surrounding energy must adhere to! Example: Oil mixed in water.. Does the water conform around the oil, or does the oil conform around the water? I wish i had $ to go to college and learn, and debate/analyze theories.. This is so interesting to me… Hmm, perhaps the distance between matter and anti-matter is where these two worlds product frequency = energy… Perhaps when anti- matter shifts or moves away the conforming matter (energy) decays (ages) and dies.

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