Theories of the Universe

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Jezen Thomas


Theories of the Universe

There are many theories on the topic of ‘everything’, but as physicists are simple folk they can only settle for one simple answer. Just one.

Most theoretical physicists have believed that, ultimately, there must be just one possible universe, the physical manifestation of a set of laws so compelling that no other option would be viable. One universe. One theory. One defining way.

It was a lovely idea, but increasingly it seems a fantasy. In recent years, theory and experiment are leading to the conclusion that, far from being the only option, our universe may be just one among an almost infinite array of possible worlds. It may be that ours is simply one member of a vast cosmological swarm.

Several paths seem to be leading in this direction. The most notable is string theory, which is the leading contender for a so-called theory of everything. Many physicists are convinced that some version of string theory will prove to be the final description of all physical reality, unification under one mathematical umbrella of matter, force, space and time.

As the name so charmingly implies, string theory proposes that, at its core, the universe is composed of minute strings. To get a sense of what this means, imagine a subatomic particle as a tiny point; now further imagine that, as you look closer, this point turns out to be a tiny closed loop, not a simple point but a minute circle. According to string theory, everything in the universe can be explained in terms of these microscopic loops or strings.

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The trouble is that there are many versions of the string theory equations. Making matters worse, each version allows for many solutions. Physicist Joseph Polchinski has recently estimated that there may be as many as 10 to the power of 60 solutions to these equations, and every solution represents a different possible universe. That's a million billion billion billion billion billion billion potential universes. To put this into perspective, there are about 400 billion stars in our galaxy.
Figures like this are difficult enough to grasp when talking about individual stars, but when talking about entire universes they are beyond comprehension.


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The candidate discusses scientific concepts accurately, they have used a good range of vocabulary and there are no grammatical or spelling errors. However the candidate has included dialogue between themselves and their friends this has no real purpose and actually detracts from the essay. You should discuss your own ideas and opinions but adding in what seems to be an unrelated conversation between friends is inappropriate and meaningless.

The candidate seems to have a good understanding of the theories they have discussed and they have given a great deal of detail especially relating to string theory. For this topic in particular I feel that candidate has made a good attempt at keeping the information simple, making it easier to read and to understand. In addition, the candidate makes a good attempt to conclude this essay, they give personal opinions and manage to link back to their introduction, which is a nice way to draw an essay to a close. However they should have summarised their key points, stating their importance, as this helps you write a final statement linking to your essay title.

The candidate gives a reasonably in depth response but it lacks balance, the topic is to discuss theories of the universe yet the candidate fails to mention the hot big bang model, which is the current scientific explanation for how the universe begin. In addition to this the candidate’s response seems to trail off and in the end its not clear what the essay is about. It is often useful to write out a rough plan before beginning an essay, this allows you to think about the topics you wish to discuss and this can help you stay on track and give a clear and balanced account.