The World in Eleven Dimensions

Michael Duff

General relativity and quantum mechanics are the most successful theories in science. But at least one is wrong. Imperial's Michael Duff outlines why M-theory is our only candidate for an ultimate theory.

  • Michael Duff
    Michael Duff

About the Course

The quantum revolution in particle physics has left a deep rift at the heart of what we know about the universe. How we reconcile Einstein’s account of gravity with quantum mechanics remains one of the biggest mysteries in science and one of its most fertile areas of discovery- resulting in of the most radical and controversial ideas in modern science: string theory.

In this course, one of the greatest pioneers in contemporary physics, Michael Duff, makes the case for M-theory; string theory’s most complete account of reality- how it works, and how it changes our understanding of science, the universe, and beyond.

In this course, you will learn:

  • Why one-dimensional ‘strings’ might make up the fabric of reality.
  • How M-theory might revolutionize the standard model of particle physics.
  • Why M-theory demands there to be 11 dimensions.
  • What branes are, and why they suggest a potentially infinite multiverse.
  • How these ideas might scientific mysteries from dark matter and the mystery of life.
  • Why other universes might obey different laws.
  • How M-theory challenges our idea of what science might be.


As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic, discussion boards to have your say and an end-of-course assessment set by Professor Duff.

About the Instructor

  • Michael Duff

    Michael Duff is a theoretical physicist and a pioneer of supergravity and M-theory. He is Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London where he has served as the Abdus Salam Chair and Principal of the Faculty of Physical Sciences. His research lies in unified theories of elementary particles, such as quantum gravity, superstrings, supermembranes, M-theory and quantum information theory, and he has held Professorships and Fellowships at the Universities of Texas, Michigan, Kyoto and Cambridge, as well as being a member of Theory Division at CERN.

    He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and is the author of The World In Eleven Dimensions: Supergravity, Supermembranes and M-Theory.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Why M-theory?
    Why do extra dimensions, strings and supersymmetry seem necessary to unify physics?
  • Part Two: The Future of Physics
    Can M-theory answer it's critics? Has there been progress? Duff outlines his vision for the future.