About Edward Witten: Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

As for the forces, electromagnetism and gravity we experience in everyday life. But the weak and strong forces are beyond our ordinary experience. So in physics, lots of the basic building blocks take 20th- or perhaps 21st-century equipment to explor...

But the beauty of Einstein's equations, for example, is just as real to anyone who's experienced it as the beauty of music. We've learned in the 20th century that the equations that work have inner harmony.

One of the basic things about a string is that it can vibrate in many different shapes or forms, which gives music its beauty.

There was a long history of speculation that in quantum gravity, unlike Einstein's classical theory, it might be possible for the topology of spacetime to change.

In Einstein's general relativity the structure of space can change but not its topology. Topology is the property of something that doesn't change when you bend it or stretch it as long as you don't break anything.

It's indeed surprising that replacing the elementary particle with a string leads to such a big change in things. I'm tempted to say that it has to do with the fuzziness it introduces.

If I take the theory as we have it now, literally, I would conclude that extra dimensions really exist. They're part of nature. We don't really know how big they are yet, but we hope to explore that in various ways.

As far as extra dimensions are concerned, very tiny extra dimensions wouldn't be perceived in everyday life, just as atoms aren't: we see many atoms together but we don't see atoms individually.

Having those extra dimensions and therefore many ways the string can vibrate in many different directions turns out to be the key to being able to describe all the particles that we see.

I wouldn't have thought that a wrong theory should lead us to understand better the ordinary quantum field theories or to have new insights about the quantum states of black holes.

Spreading out the particle into a string is a step in the direction of making everything we're familiar with fuzzy. You enter a completely new world where things aren't at all what you're used to.

Technically you need the extra dimensions. At first people didn't like them too much, but they've got a big benefit, which is that the ability of string theory to describe all the elementary particles and their forces along with gravity depends on us...

So when you ask me how string theory might be tested, I can tell you what's likely to happen at accelerators or some parts of the theory that are likely to be tested.

You have that one basic string, but it can vibrate in many ways. But we're trying to get a lot of particles because experimental physicists have discovered a lot of particles.

On the other hand, we don't understand the theory too completely, and because of this fuzziness of spacetime, the very concept of spacetime and spacetime dimensions isn't precisely defined.

Quantum mechanics brought an unexpected fuzziness into physics because of quantum uncertainty, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

It's an exaggeration to say that I came up with M-theory.

Quantum mechanics brought an unexpected fuzziness into physics because of quantum uncertainty, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. String theory does so again because a point particle is replaced by a string, which is more spread out.

One very important aspect of string theory is definitely testable. That was the prediction of supersymmetry, which emerged from string theory in the early '70s.

I have a tendency, more than most other physicists, to try to figure out everything all at once, before I publish. And even to try to figure out everything in my head, without pencil and paper.