Monday, April 27, 2015

Branes, Strings, and M-Theory

My post for the Threads challenge is even later than Martha's - but here it is, finally!

My first piece in my subject - Magic and Science - is called "Branes, Strings and M-Theory", and it is supposed to be a science subject.  However, anything in the quantum world is so difficult to understand, and to prove - not only by lay people but even by scientists - that it sounds like magic!

Well, anything based on mathematical equations is like magic to me!

Definitions (mostly from Wikipedia):

Branes (or membranes) – Branes are dynamical objects which can propagate through spacetime according to the rules of quantum mechanics. They have mass and can have other attributes such as charge.

StringsIn physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings.

M-Theory - M-theory is a theory in physics that unifies all consistent versions of superstring theory.  Some scientists believe it is the much sought-after ‘theory of everything” – but much remains to be proved. It is so complicated that I cannot explain it properly, but one characteristic that interests me is that the theory requires not three or four dimensions, (three of space plus one of time) - as we are used to in our world - but 10 or 11 dimensions; and the ones we cannot perceive, are folded small and hidden.

In my quilt, I represent branes with shapes, strings with lines, and M-Theory with my sewing machine's in-built embroidery patterns. I have never used them before in a quilt - I only ever played with them in samples, when trying a new machine - I never knew what to do with them.

It may seem an easy thing to do - but I assure you it is not.  To get the pattern functioning properly while stitching a big quilt is not so simple!  I eventually developed a way of holding the quilt aloft, so the pattern didn't get bunched up (don't ask me how I know it happens!).

The quilt is 48” high by 29 1/2” wide.  Improvisationally pieced, mostly free-machine quilted, incorporating lines of automatic sewing machine patterns.  It did take me an inordinately long time to make!


  1. This is just wonderful, Alicia! I love the colors and the stitching works perfectly. I'm still trying to wrap my head around small dimensions folding on themselves, but I appreciate the magic and wonder of it all!

  2. Fantastic composition - it does look like magic to me. :) The play between the bold solid colors and the repetitive pattern of the embroidery is really interesting. I got a distinct "mathematical" impression from this design but I admit I have no understanding of the actual theories behind it. Nicely done, Alicia! :)

  3. I can see the magic power in your work, Alicia, though the theories are still very confusing to me. They are just like magic!