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The Pursuit Of A Theory Of Everything

1607 words - 7 pages

A belief in the unifying principles that underlie all natural phenomena was first articulated by Aristotle, who proposed all matter stems from the four elements of nature: earth, air, fire, and water (Duft). The search for such principles has since evolved considerably, yet the firmly rooted interest in a fundamental unification persists. Unification is defined as attempts to explain several principles according to one definition or equation. This process occurs in all areas of science, from biology to cosmology, and often reduces the complexity of calculations and leads to new predictions regarding related phenomena. In physics, the unification of seemingly unrelated concepts has led to a ...view middle of the document...

This can inspire the design of technology, leading to the development of aircraft.
While present in daily life, unification is most applicable to the realm of research as a tool to understand many connected phenomena using a simpler explanation. For instance, unification of all the behavioral sciences, namely economics, psychology, anthropology, and biology, has recently been proposed to serve as a better framework for studying what human motives (Gintis). Unification in fields such as physics and chemistry possess more empirical content based in direct experiments, beyond observation and correlation. One example of such a unification is the reduction of the experimental results about the behavior of gases from Joseph Gay-Lussac, Jacques Charles, Robert Boyle, and Amedeo Avogadro into a simplified Ideal Gas Law to explain their general properties as a function of temperature, pressure, volume, and amount in moles (Woody). Although idealization sacrifices accuracy, this law does describe most gases without requiring knowledge of the gaseous composition. Extending the unification of scientific understanding further still has led to the development of large-scale unified theories. For instance, Howard Odum developed the field of ecosystem ecology to combine research from biological, geographic, chemical, and meteorological studies to explain how various environmental components operate as cohesive systems (Odum). This work was further integrated into Systems Theory, which attempts to predict how any system, be it economic, circuit-based, or social, will be able to function (Odum). In each of these examples, the fundamental principles could never be correctly modeled without some simplification due to the unfathomable complexity of human behavior, individual gas particles or an entire ecosystem. Unification is a useful tool to more fully grasp interrelated data and to make meaningful predictions about analogous situations and, therefore, plays an important role in research.
One of the most well-known unification attempts in modern science is the Theory of Everything or Grand Unified Field Theory. Despite the all-encompassing implication of the name, this theory is limited to explaining the sources of physical forces. If discovered, it would reconcile seemingly incompatible aspects of various field theories, namely gravity and electricity with the strong and weak nuclear forces, in order to explain the nature and behavior of all matter and energy in existence (Hawking and Mlodinow). For clarity, a force is a push or a pull acting upon an object due to its interaction with another object. Gravity is the familiar force that pulls objects together (Rohrlich). The electric force is responsible for the attraction of similar charges and repulsion of unlike charges, with magnetic forces resulting from moving charges (Rohrlich). The strong nuclear force holds positively charged protons of nuclei together (Rohrlich). The less familiar weak nuclear force...

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