Few fields of scientific endeavor are “hotter” than superstring theory. Despite a debate that has broken out between theoretical physicists over the substantiality of the field (see “Opinion,” page 9), published papers on superstrings have increased so rapidly over the last few years that the Institute for Scientific Information’s on-line database, SciSearch, counts the field as 1987’s fifth most prolific. This is particu- larly remarkable in that as recently as 1982 only three papers used the word superstring—or a variant—in their titles. That was the year that John H. Schwarz, professor of theo- retical physics at the California Institute of Technology, coined the term. Only five years later, ISI identified 225 papers as discussing “superstring models and heterotic string theory.”

All this, just to make a dream of Albert Einstein’s come true. Einstein hoped someday to devise a theory that would reconcile the paradoxes evident in the quantum world, one...

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