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Strung Together

The Cultural Currency of String Theory as a Scientific Imaginary

Sean Miller

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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1. Introduction: String Theory as a Theory of Everything

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pp. 1-26

String theory is reputed to have begun in 1968, when a postdoctoral fellow named Gabrielle Veneziano, working at CERN,1 one of the world’s leading high energy physics laboratories, proposed a solution to a vexing problem concerning the interaction of subatomic particles in the nuclei of atoms. He accomplished this by using a formula he had found in an eighteenth-century...

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2. A Return to the Eleventh Dimension: String Theory as a Scientific Imaginary

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pp. 27-58

The passage is an excerpt from an article by Matthew Chapman in Harper’s Magazine entitled, “God or Gorilla: A Darwin Descendant at the Dover Monkey Trial.” On first inspection, the interviewee, Scott Mehring of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, would seem to be indulging in a facile form of philosophizing. In a tour de force of pastiche, through his evocation of the...

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3. The Romance of Encounter: String Theory Technical Discourse

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pp. 59-107

In his preface to The Order of Things, Michel Foucault writes of how reading this passage from Borges caused him to laugh out loud; that it, as Foucault puts it, “shattered . . . all the familiar landmarks of thought . . . breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things” (xvi). What Foucault so appreciates in Borges’s taxonomy is its vivid demonstration that how we...

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4. Accessibility and Authority: String Theory Popularizations

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pp. 108-145

The previous chapter surveyed the expository portion of certain representative texts in string theory technical discourse in their development of a scientific imaginary. The content of this exposition is best understood as an imaginary because it is primarily concerned with substantiating an abstract theoretical space as that which is natural. Theorists attempt to expose this...

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5. The Cosmic and Domestic: Adaptations of String Theory in Literature

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pp. 146-189

The previous chapter investigated the ways in which a selection of string theory popularizations makes an abstract theoretical space accessible through a pedagogical space. Within these string theory popularizations access becomes an imaginative mode that works to distinguish what theorists mark as novel in that space; in particular, images of strings and branes,...

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6. Strung Together: String Theory in Contemporary Globalized Culture

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pp. 190-212

As with many, I first encountered string theory when I picked up a copy of Brian Greene’s popularization, The Elegant Universe, in 1999. Having at the time a passing familiarity with the counterintuitive idiosyncrasies of quantum theory, I was drawn to it by the prospect of discovering further strangeness lurking in the remotest recesses of the subatomic universe....


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pp. 213-232


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pp. 233-244


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pp. 245-256

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028962
E-ISBN-10: 0472028960
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118663
Print-ISBN-10: 0472118668

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Science -- Literary collections.
  • String models.
  • Science in popular culture.
  • Science -- Language.
  • Physics -- Philosophy.
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