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Kaluza-Klein theory

Kaluza-Klein theory is a model which unifies classical gravity and electromagnetism. It was discovered by the mathematician Theodor Kaluza[?] that if general relativity is extended to a five-dimensional spacetime, the equations can be separated out into ordinary four-dimensional gravitation plus an extra set, which is equivalent to Maxwell's equations for the electromagnetic field, plus an extra scalar field known as the "dilaton". Klein proposed that the fourth spatial dimension is curled up with a very small radius, i.e. that a particle moving a short distance along that axis would return to where it began. The distance a particle can travel before reaching its initial position is said to be the size of the dimension. This, in fact, also gives rise to quantization of charge, as waves directed along a finite axis can only occupy discrete frequencies.

Kaluza-Klein theory can be extended to cover the other fundamental forces - namely, the weak and strong nuclear forces - but a straightforward approach runs into difficulties involving chirality. The problem is that all neutrinos appear to be left-handed, meaning that they are spinning in the direction of the fingers of the left hand when they are moving in the direction of the thumb. All anti-neutrinos appear to be right-handed. Somehow particle reactions are asymmetric when it comes to spin and it is not straightforward to build this into a Kaluza-Klein theory since the extra dimensions of physical space are symmetric with respect to left-hand spinning and right-hand spinning particles.

Moreover the theory as it stands does not deal with quantum effects. However, the same approach to unification of forces is taken by some more modern theories, notably string theory and the related M-theory.

Further reading

  • Hyperspace : A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension - Michio Kaku, Robert O'Keefe



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