String theory made easy

V. Gates, M. Roachcock, E. Kangaroo, and W.C. Gall

(visiting U. Esta Dual Teoria do Campo)


String theory isn't easy, fool. The title was just a trick to get you to read this abstract. However, we will give a list of simple rote rules that will allow you to do research on strings.


There isn't any simple rote way to learn strings, sucker. We duped you again to get you to read this introduction. You're clearly not ready yet to do any real string theory, so instead we'll first show you some nice pictures, then throw some words at you that sound really deep. Before we do that, we need to make the obligatory analogy between string states & the modes of vibration of violin strings. Of course, you don't know the physics of violins, either, but @ least this will reduce your ignorance in that area by a factor of 2.

Wick rotation

An important idea that is used frequently in high-energy physics is the concept of "Wick rotation", i.e., turning time into space. A geometric way of picturing this is the following: ⇒

This replaces an unfamiliar object with a more familiar one.

This transformation is explained mathematically in a very simple way through the use of complex numbers: Expressing time in terms of clocks, we treat the 4th dimension x⁴ of time as an imaginary one: This expresses the mathematical equation x⁴ = ict, which not only makes time imaginary, but also gives it units of space, as the speed of light c = length/time. In string theory we do a bit more, by mapping linear time, which looks like a circle on a clock, to the complex plane, where it really does become a (unit) circle: You may recognize these numbers from your study of trigonometry, or @ least you would have if you hadn't learned the subject on a calculator.

Application of self-homeomorphisms is another method to change geometries in a way that makes them more appealing: ⇒

I guess I need
@ least 1 equation

∫dμ   =

where "dμ" is the pleasure of integration, & we have applied the St(e)r(l)ing approximation.


anti-Semitic tensor: field Bμν that doesn't fit well with Einstein metric gμν (Semitic tensor)
Cartoon subalgebra: isotropy group of closet space
elliptic fibrosis: F-disease
free masons: cheap bozons
KLT sandwich: open-string sandwich with κ™ symmetry, lattice, & T-duality
leptomaniac: ignores QCD; publishes papers in Lepontic, posthumorously
overhead projector:
⎛1 0⎞
⎝0 0⎠

susy partners: scholars & spinsters
tempura gauge: measures how fried your engine is
totalitarian derivative: unlike partial derivative, plays no favorites & kills all terms
(L.S.) U(1) anomaly: devaluation of Chinese currency

Appendix: FAQ

Some of these questions apply to physics in general. If you have avoided asking them till graduate school, you may be too late.

    General physics questions

  1. "This is too hard. Can you give me something easier to work on?"
    Didn't you read the abstract & introduction?

  2. "Oh, come on, there must be some easy topics in physics."
    Well, there is inertia & force. Oh, wait, Newton already did that. Of course, you could take a time machine back to before Newton, & beat him to discovering that. But then you'd need to invent the time machine...

  3. "Why is there so much math? I want some physics without so much math."
    Have you considered a major in engineering?

  4. "Is there an introduction to this material I could read?"
    This is the introduction.

    String theory questions

  5. "String theory hasn't shown any success yet. Should I just give up & work on something else?"
    Yes. Theoretical high-energy physics in general hasn't had any success since the Standard Model. So try low-energy physics; that should fit your low-energy lifestyle.

  6. "If string theory hasn't proven any better then the alternatives, then why do so many people still work on it?"
    Because the other ones are boring.

  7. "Will I live long enough to see any success in string theory?"
    If we're lucky, no.

  8. "I just don't feel like string theory will ever amount to anything."
    Don't forget to take your meds.


  9. "I'm having a hard time typing the URL to this webpage."
    Well, if you find that difficult, it's no wonder you're having trouble with the physics.

  10. "Hey, I don't have to stay here & take this abuse."
    I know, there are so many other places you could get it. Why don't you try one?