Earlier attempts based on classical physics are described in the article on classical unified field theories. And right in the middle of trying to figure out what to do about this, something else happened: I started working on Wolfram|Alpha. I didn’t know where it would all go. (And, yes, I was involved in that, and it was a lot of fun.) And I don’t know how hard that’s going to be. So who will do it? From time to time I would talk to physicist friends of mine about the fundamental physics project. I was lucky enough to be involved in physics in one of its golden ages, in the late 1970s. And ideas which have failed those observational tests should be abandoned once they reach the point of absurdity. In 1967, Pakistani Abdus Salam and American Steven Weinberg independently revised Glashow's theory by having the masses for the W particle and Z particle arise through spontaneous symmetry breaking with the Higgs mechanism. It doesn’t hurt to have experience in doing and leading large projects. In physics, a unified field theory (UFT) is a type of field theory that allows all that is usually thought of as fundamental forces and elementary particles to be written in terms of a pair of physical and virtual fields. Instead of saying “this is how things are built up from something underneath” it basically just said “Here are some mathematical constraints. But many great ideas haven’t been met with successful predictions, and they can only be considered speculative theories at best. Calculations that I’d done to a first order of approximation had now been done to three orders. It’s very hard to have a new idea in physics, and it’s even more difficult for that new idea to actually be any good. I oscillated between thinking that in the midst of such a worldwide crisis it was almost disrespectful to be talking about something like a fundamental theory of physics, and thinking that perhaps people might like an intellectual distraction. But so far researchers are less than receptive. I’m bewildered, fascinated and excited … I lack the scientific and math training to follow all the analysis and explanations in the preface, but I am so excited to continue! Deep in his gut, he knows that he’s embarked down a road that must lead to the ultimate destination: a fundamental theory of everything. It’s one of those cases where it’s almost inevitable that making progress will need that strange combination of having inside knowledge yet “being an outsider”. But the way we go about that is to test and refine our models, look for inconsistencies and incrementally work our way toward better, more complete models.”, Most scientists would readily tell you that their discipline is—and always has been—a collaborative, communal process. Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer received the Prize in 1984. When we use the word "theory" in a conventional sense, we talk about it the same way we'd talk about the word "idea" or "hypothesis." These are not words that carry any legitimate scientific weight behind them. Y And, yes, now it looks like that’s how all of physics may work—but we’ll come to that. Is it surprising that a fundamental theory of physics hasn’t been found yet? I’d figured out the story of how space could be made as the limit of a discrete network and how different possible updating sequences for graphs led to different threads of time. According to the modern discoveries in physics, forces are not transmitted directly between interacting objects, but instead are described and interrupted by intermediary entities called fields. 1 I think it’s sort of inevitable that happens with these very large systems. Einstein's General Relativity is a standout example of a successful scientific theory on all three of these fronts, but things don't always go in order the way you'd hope they would. of the {\displaystyle \phi ^{-}=(\varphi ^{+})^{*}} or x This was the first example of a theory that was able to encompass previously separate field theories (namely electricity and magnetism) to provide a unifying theory of electromagnetism. ) But it’s taken an additional 18 years for us to find that out. There’s a whole way of thinking about the world using the idea of computation. Loop quantum gravity. It always ends up with an outstanding group of students (mostly college, grad and postdoc). For a while this was basically a curiosity, but slowly the calculations became more streamlined—and it began to look as if whole black holes in a sense had enough mathematical perfection that they could actually be studied a bit like little particles. Over the past half-century, many novel ideas have sought to surpass the current limitations plaguing theoretical physics, from supersymmetry to extra dimensions to grand unification to quantum gravity to string theory. And even though my description was written (for myself) in language-designer-ese, I also had the sense that this model had a certain almost-mathematical purity to it. New ideas should make different, observably testable predictions from the other leading ideas. Okay, challenge accepted: how shall we play? But there was a theme. If you cannot quantify your predictions, and then (at least in principle) go out and test them, you do not yet have a scientific theory. And it also had all sorts of weird problems—like implying that the universe should really be 26-dimensional, or maybe 10-dimensional. He’d been publishing papers on various topics since he was 17, most recently on a new algorithm for graph isomorphism. What were all these things? (It’s very nice to have been told many times that, apart from the internet, Mathematica is the largest methodological advance in the doing of physics in this generation.). But it showed there was something else that had to be figured out in physics. But then there are other things going on, like my all-time favorite—what I called “rule 30”: At first, I didn’t understand what I was seeing, and I was convinced that somehow the simplicity of the underlying rules must ultimately force the behavior to be simple. This happened numerous times in theoretical physics during the 20th century, as Einstein's General Relativity replaced Newtonian gravity, quantum physics replaced our classical view of the Universe, and the quantum field theory-based Standard Model superseded the early-20th century version of our quantum Universe. There’d be lots of technical information and exposition. The first successful classical unified field theory was developed by James Clerk Maxwell. Non-commutative geometry. When asked about such criticisms, Gorard agrees—to a point. The "Theory of Everything" [3] and Grand Unified Theory[4] are closely related to unified field theory, but differ by not requiring the basis of nature to be fields, and often by attempting to explain physical constants of nature. ( I’d had the goal of “being a physicist” since I was about 10 years old, and now, at age 20, I was actually officially a physicist. Wolfram Natural Language Understanding System. And that’s how I came to start developing my first big computer system and language. “John Conway, same thing.”. And so it was that I left physics, and began to explore the computational universe: in a sense the universe of all possible universes. New predictions like these are essential for demonstrating the validity of a proposed fine-tuning mechanism. But in the fall of 2018 he was taking a break from graduate school, working at Lyft in Silicon Valley on machine vision for autonomous driving. New ideas started flowing. But with the calculus-based thinking of the time nobody managed to make that work. “John von Neumann, he absolutely didn’t see this,” Wolfram says. Meetings about physics were now interspersed with meetings about shutting down offices. At this point in time, his idea has failed to meet any of the three criteria necessary for a scientific theory to supersede the pre-existing one. is satisfied. And then I realized: computation is its own paradigm. A major problem for experimental tests of such theories is the energy scale involved, which is well beyond the reach of current accelerators. At first I was skeptical. A Universe with dark energy (red), a Universe with large inhomogeneity energy (blue), and a... [+] critical, dark-energy-free Universe (green). of 2020. Y “You’re really good at this.” I still liked physics, and I particularly liked its “let’s just figure this out” attitude. But there's a free parameter as well: the zero-point energy of space, which enters General Relativity as a cosmological constant. Finally, though, a few years ago I had an idea about the fundamental physics project: why not just do the project as an educational project? Even when you can give all sorts of arguments about why such-and-such a system can’t do anything interesting, it’ll find a way to surprise you, and do something you’d never predict. ) Then one day we went on a long walk, and Jonathan explained an idea he had (which, knowing him, he may have just come up with right there). Perhaps it’s partly because the tower of mathematical sophistication in models is highest there.

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