Definition of 'Brane'

Superstrings, conceptual artwork
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In theoretical physics, a brane (short for membrane) is an object which can have any number of allowed dimensions. Branes are most popular for their presence in string theory, where it is a fundamental object, along with the string.

String Theory

String theory has 9 space dimensions, so a brane can have anywhere from 0 to 9 dimensions. Branes were hypothesized as part of string theory in the late 1980s. In 1995, Joe Polchinski realized that Edward Witten's proposed M-Theory required the existence of branes.

Some physicists have proposed that our own universe is, in fact, a 3-dimensional brane, on which we are "stuck" within a larger 9-dimensional space, to explain why we can't perceive the extra dimensions.

Also Known As: membrane, D-brane, p-brane, n-brane