In theoretical physics, superstring theory is presently the most lively effort to formulate a quantum theory of gravity and to provide a unified field theory that explains the fundamental forces of nature. Superstring theory, in fact, has the capacity to make important predictions that can be verified by experiment. Its formulations lead directly to the particles known to be responsible for carrying the forces, and the formulations predict the existence of new particles, such as scalar bosons and supersymmetric particles, which may only be detectable at the proposed superconducting supercollider accelerator.

Superstring theory is an exciting area of research. It dates back to the late 1960s, when theoretical physicists, motivated by knowledge of the particle spectrum established experimentally at that time, discovered that the different modes of oscillations of a massless relativistic string, a one-dimensional object, had many features in common with these particles, much in the same way that...

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