The world in eleven dimensions: a tribute to Oskar Klein


Current attempts to find a unified theory that would reconcile Einstein's General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and explain all known physical phenomena, invoke the Kaluza-Klein idea of extra spacetime dimensions. The best candidate is M-theory, which lives in eleven dimensions, the maximum allowed by supersymmetry of the elementary particles. We give a non-technical account. An Appendix provides an updated version of Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 satire {\it Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions}. Entitled {\it Flatland, Modulo 8}, it describes the adventures of a superstring theorist, A. Square, who inhabits a ten-dimensional world and is initially reluctant to accept the existence of an eleventh dimension.Comment: Oskar Klein Professorship Inaugural Lecture, University of Michigan, 16 March 2001. 38 pages, Latex, 15 color figure

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