A fascinating article recounts strategies to examine space and time at what is believed to be its most fundamental level, the Planck scale. It is at this level that we believe the universe is granular, ‘we’ being those who interpret quantum physics in that manner. Not all physicists believe that the Planck scale means precisely that, but nearly all do believe that these measures in space and time do have a special and eerie significance.
The article lightly details serveral methods of observing space and time at the Planck scale, which is pretty nifty. These methods center around using interferometers of various scale and construction. An interferometer is a device that makes interference clear between two sets of waves. Basically, you take two separate streams, put them on the same track and look at their interference pattern.
What are the implications of these experiments, should they yield results? That is a heavy question, and I doubt that a roomful of scientists would have many in agreement. However, the unification of quantum theory with general relativiy will be high on the list…whether the results give some hards clues one way or another or tell us to get back to the whiteboard. Perhaps we may get some direction towards nanotechnology, or smaller, faster computers, or nastier bombs.
For now, I just consider it something cool to think about.