Me and my friend, both many years from learning string theory, had a recent debate about it anyway. He said he already partially discounts it because after learning waves, he believes any function, and thus any kind of physical process can be created through a superposition of an infinite sum of waves. Since string theory to our understanding is made up of primarily oscillating strings, he argues that it is a mathematical necessity for string theory to create equations for the physical world, regardless of whether the theory actually is "true" or not.

My understanding is that Fourier analysis can only create arbitrary periodic functions, can it in principal create any real world field or particle, etc.? Besides this, I argued that this might be a pointless question anyway, as if we can create a perfect model of the universe with string theory, then the question of whether the universe is really made of oscillating strings is more of a philosophical question that may not mean anything at all.

Through reading Brian Green's books I know that M-theory at least incorporates more than just strings, but I have no clue as to how things such as branes work, can his argument even apply to these other fundamental objects in string theory?

So my question is, is Fourier Analysis essentially what String Theory is? And if so, does that make it any less of a true physical theory of the universe?


closed as off-topic by Danu, Kyle Kanos, Ali, Brandon Enright, John Rennie Jul 9 '14 at 8:57

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "We deal with mainstream physics here. Questions about the general correctness of unpublished personal theories are off topic, although specific questions evaluating new theories in the context of established science are usually allowed. For more information, see Is non mainstream physics appropriate for this site?." – Danu, Ali, Brandon Enright, John Rennie
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is not quite clear to me what you are asking. Furthermore, note that personal theories (i.e. ones that could not be expounded in mainstream physics journals) are off-topic on this site. $\endgroup$ – Danu Jul 8 '14 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ It's not a personal theory so much as a question on what String theory actually does/is. I added a more exact question at the end. $\endgroup$ – Zach Johnson Jul 8 '14 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ It seems a bit harsh to close this question as non-mainstream. This question strikes me as a natural question to ask from a person who only knows string theory from, say, a NOVA TV broadcast, and who e.g. has been told things like "the elementary particles are like different notes on a vibrating violin string". Do we have a patient user around who could explain that string theory is not just Fourier analysis? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 8 '14 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Q that there's no reason to close this question but I disagree with Q that we seek a patient person to explain it. Rather, we seek a person that finds this question interesting and, thus, would find it rewarding to answer in detail. Anyone? $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Jul 9 '14 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ Well, whatever gets the job done. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Jul 9 '14 at 5:23

So my question is, is Fourier Analysis essentially what String Theory is?

Briefly, no.

String theory "is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings."

Fourier analysis "is the study of the way general functions may be represented or approximated by sums of simpler trigonometric functions".


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