A Theory of Everything

Imagine an ant walking on a crumpled sheet of paper. The ant would say that there was a mysterious “force” which pulled it left and right. But we know that there is no “force” pulling the ant; there is only the crumpled sheet of paper pushing the ant left and right. Gravity does not pull: empty space pushes.

A couple of weeks back, sometime in early December last year, I was watching this documentary on the life of Albert Einstein. It was fairly indepth and captivating – a coverage with a fair balance of Einstein’s personal life and his professional work. Besides Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity (1905, E=mc²) and the theory of General Relativity (1915, Big Bang etc.), the documentary paid some attention to his third theory which is said to be his greatest but one which was never finished: “a theory of everything“. It was Einstein’s attempt to “read the mind of God“. He spent the last 30 years of his life chasing after an equation, perhaps no more than one inch long, that would explain all physical phenomena. Everything from Creation, to supernovas, to atoms and molecules, perhaps even DNA, people, and love (human emotions) was to be explained by this equation. But the theory could never materialize. Till date, visionaries are feverishly solving the problem that may lay open the Holy Grail of science.

A Theory of Everything

Time Travel is one phenomenon which has intrigued me lately. Einstein’s equations admit the possibility of time travel. But it may take the full power of the unified field theory to calculate whether it’s really possible or not. If the universe rotated, and you went around the universe, you could arrive back before you left! A Theory of Everything may also help explain the sticky paradoxes found in time travel stories, such as the “grandfather paradox” – what happens if you kill your ancestors before you are born. If you go back in time to save the Pope from being assassinated, you will only save someone else’s Pope (and all this while I thought there’s only one Pope – as a legacy, only one God). Your own past cannot be changed.

Einstein believed that there’s a reason for everything. Nothing is random – in the universe, in nature and in life. Everything (in time – past, present or future) has a purpose. Can there be a “philosophy of science”? When Einstein, famously, said that “God does NOT play dice” (concentrating on a theory of Everything), did that mean that he believed in God? But the question is “which God”? Polytheists believe in the existence of many gods. Monotheists believe in the existence of just one god. Deists believe in the existence of a supernatural being who created the universe, but this being has declined thereafter to intervene in its affairs or to reveal himself/herself to us. Pantheists believe that nature itself deserves to be called “God” since nature itself deserves our feelings of reverence and awe. Atheists don’t believe in any supernatural God or gods whatever. The mind of which God or gods or nothing (as an Atheist might say), will a theory of Everything explain?

Personally, I’m optimistic.

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