VR Used To Demonstrate the Complexities of String Theory

Profession Brian Green uses VR to explain complete theoretical physics models as VR objects.

String Theory is one of the most complex and difficult-to-grasp ideas in the field of theoretical physics. Even many experts in the field have trouble with it, since String Theory requires things to exist in places other than the ones we can see and feel. Which is where virtual reality (VR) comes in. By rendering theoretical mathematical models into VR, it’s possible for students to get a better idea of how String Theory really works.

A VR lesson created by Abelana VR productions for HTC Vive shows students how String Theory works by demonstrating the building of an object called a Tesseract, a four-dimensional object with 24 square faces. The students are then invited to attempt creating their own objects in four, five or even six dimensions. The class is being taught by physicist Brian Greene, a professor at Columbia University as part of the World Science Festival, a week-long celebration of science and curiosity.

Greene trying to convey some of the complex concepts of String Theory by using VR visualisations. To most of us, the world consists of three spacial dimensions, but String Theory suggests there are are at least another six dimensions on top of that, which are too small for humans to detect, curled up at they are within subatomic particles. The models for String Theory are largely theoretical, but play a large part in explaining how things like gravity and quantum mechanics fit together.

To try and convey the scale of what String Theory deals with, Greene shows his students a VR wire, which looks from our perspective to be a straight line – a 2D object. The virtual projection zooms in closer to show an ant walking in a circle around the wire’s circumference, showing that what is seemly invisible is just a matter of scale.

VR has begun to make significant inroads into the world of education and training. VRFocus will continue to report on that progress.

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