For thousands of physicists, for hundreds of years, the theory of everything is the ultimate theory, or simply-put: the hypothetical single theoretical framework of physics that explains and links together every aspects of the universe. A single, elegant equation, that could explain everything. A theory that if somehow discovered could provide answers of the basic building block in the universe.
Legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said there is no theory to be found. Either way, physicists came to a point where they started making hypothesis about the theory of everything.
What if physicists ever find out this theory of everything? Are our lives going to change? If you are not quite the scientist, it is just fine. What you need to know is that physicists can think of human history in terms of forces and their discoveries. In 1687, Isaac Newton worked out the first force, gravity. This discovery gave us the key mechanics that eventually led to the creation of steam engines, skyscrapers, the industrial revolution. The second important force to be found was the electromagnetic force: the one that lights up our cities, the one responsible for our computers and all the electronics wonders that surround us. More recently, scientists worked out the nuclear force, giving mankind nuclear power. This led us to the creation one of the deadliest weapons ever made, used today as the greatest threat from the leader States around the world. It gave us the energy of the stars, the energy of the engine that drives the entire universe! Consequently, every time physicists discovered a force, human history took a radical new turn.
Now that physicists are looking more in depth than ever into the theory of everything, one may wonder what consequential change we will get from the potential discovery. The honest answer is that finding out how everything has started will not affect your life. In order to understand why, let’s first think of how this theory could actually affect Science: if we assume that the theory of everything is the key equation explaining every aspect of the universe, would that mean scientists would have all the answers of all their questions? Sadly, a theory of everything would not actually answer all of our questions about the universe. Yes, it would give physicists a very accurate and interesting description of how the particles everything is made of behave and interact with each other. But considering there are only limited ways in which scientists can approach these particles; how could Science use this information? As a matter of fact, some of the most important fields of Science, namely biology, chemistry, geology, and so on, would be almost completely unaffected. If we come up with a theory of everything, figuring out how to apply its equations to real-life situations would be a monumental task. Once the new theory is well understood and can be used to predict real-world phenomena, experimental physicists and other applied scientists would rush to start looking for ways to achieve any kind of results out of the theory. The good news is that with billions of possible arrangements of particles to choose from, these scientists would have no shortage of interesting topics to study. A theory of everything would simply not bring us closer to understanding large-scale phenomena such as life or consciousness which have been questioned for centuries.
Bryan Greene, an American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his support of the so-called ‘string theory’ (look it up, it is pretty insane) asked himself: ‘do we create the mathematics or do we discover them?’, questioning the essence of every mathematical data we own. My question is, why should we go after this answer of everything? And if we ever can find an answer, is it something we need to discover?
The theory of everything would be a theory of space, time and the universe itself: it would answer the deepest philosophical and theological questions of all time. One could even begin theorizing about the possibility of unknown multiple dimensions and multiple universes – ‘multiverses’. However, interestingly, finding out the theory of everything would not be the end of science. It would be the end of one line of inquiry and the beginning of a thousand others. Whether we ever find our answer of everything or not, let’s continue being curious and discovering how our world functions.