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“The discovery of dark energy has greatly changed how we think about the laws of nature,” said Edward Witten,  one of the world’s leading theorists at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.




In string theory, a paradigm shift could be imminent. In June, a team of string theorists from Harvard and Caltech published a new conjecture which sounded revolutionary: string theory is said to be fundamentally incompatible with our current understanding of dark energy—but only with dark energy can we explain the accelerated expansion of our current universe.


Timm Wrase of the Vienna University of Technology quickly realized something odd about this conjecture: it seemed to be incompatible with the existence of the Higgs particle. His calculations, which he carried out together with theorists from Columbia University in New York and the University of Heidelberg, have now been published in Physical Review D. At the moment, there are heated discussions about strings and dark energy all around the world. Wrase hopes that this will lead to new breakthroughs in this line of research.


Astronomers have thought that the expansion of the universe is regulated by both the force of gravity, and a mysterious dark energy as shown in the image above. In this artist’s conception, dark energy is represented by the purple grid above, and gravity by the green grid below. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Much hope has been placed in string theory. It is supposed to explain how gravity is related to quantum physics and how we can understand the laws of nature, which describe the entire physical world, from the smallest particles to the largest structure of the cosmos.

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