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Question: What will we gain if we eventually discover the Theory of Everything? (Submitted by Bruce Vang Vang)

Michio Kaku: Bruce, some people say, if we find the Theory of Everything, the crowning achievement of modern science. Ever since humans first began to ask, what is the world made of. Are we going to have wonders, technological wonders? Am I gonna get better color television? Am I gonna get better cable reception? Am I gonna get a better internet? Well, the short-term answer is, no. It’s not going to affect your life or the life of anyone directly, but look at it this way, this Theory of Everything, is also a theory of space and time and the universe itself. It will answer some of the deepest, philosophical, theological questions of all time. What happened before Genesis 1:1? What happens if time could be bent into a pretzel? What happens if space has holes in it? What happens if you could somehow manipulate space and time itself?

These questions are far beyond the theories of Einstein. Einstein’s theory breaks down at the instant of the Big Bang where it’s useless. Einstein’s theory breaks down at the center of a black hole. What lies on the other side of a black hole? What lies on the other side of a Big Bang? Einstein’s theories are useless because they simply blow up at that point. This is where a Theory of Everything comes in. String Theory being a Theory of Everything actually allows us to go before the Big Bang where there might have been a multiverse of universes. Without a universe being a bubble, we live on the skin of the bubble, the bubble is expanding and there are other bubbles out there floating in 11-dimensional hyperspace. And these bubbles in tern are connected perhaps by gateways, by tubes. These are called wormholes and we physicists take them very seriously. These wormholes may or may not be stable, we’re not sure, but they are definitely part of the equations of the Theory of Everything.

Now, another thing, think of human history as seen by a physicist in terms of forces. When Isaac Newton worked out the first force, gravity; that gave us a mechanics. That mechanics gave us steam engines, locomotives, skyscrapers, the industrial revolution was in part spurned on by the mastery of the first force, gravity.

The second force is the electromagnetic force. The force that lights up our cities, laser beams, computers, all of the electronic wonders that we see around us is a byproduct of the second force. So when physicists worked out the second force that unleashed the electric and the computer revolution.

And then the weak and strong nuclear forces were worked out in the last century, that gave us nuclear power. That gave us the energy of the stars, the engine that drives the entire universe. So every time we physicists worked out a force, human history changed.

And now we physicists are working out the Theory of Everything. What will it eventually get us? In the short-term, nothing, but in the long-term, it may allow us to become masters of space and time. 

More from the Big Idea for Saturday, January 19 2013

Theory of Everything

Philosophy has always had the goal of simplifying knowledge, that is to say, reducing our understanding of the universe to a single unifying theory. The more progress that we make in science ho... Read More…


The Theory of Everything

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