http://books.simonandschuster.com/Tear-at-the-Edge-of-Creation/Marcelo-Gleiser/9781439108321 Overturning more than twenty-five centuries of scientific thought, award-winning physicist Marcelo Gleiser argues that this quest for a Theory of Everything is fundamentally misguided, and he explains the volcanic implications this ideological shift has for humankind. All the evidence points to a scenario in which everything emerges from fundamental imperfections, primordial asymmetries in matter and time, cataclysmic accidents in Earth’s early life, and duplication errors in the genetic code. Imbalance spurs creation. Without asymmetries and imperfections, the universe would be filled with nothing but smooth radiation. http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/04/a_tear_at_the_edge_of_creation.html Marcelo like many of us began his career as a true believer. He beautifully recounts his own journey, his own heart felt desire to read the "mind of God" through physics (though like many of us he is an atheist). But after years of working at the frontier of these ideas Marcelo found his faith shaken. As he writes, During the past 50 years discoveries in experimental physics have shown time and time again that our expectations of higher symmetry are more expectations than reality Abandoned the search for symmetries as the ultimate meaning in physics Marcelo turns in the other direction. Using examples from the study of time, space, matter and life he argues that asymmetry and imperfection are just as often the real guiding principle behind what we see. In this way there is lots of good science in Marcelo's book to sink your teeth into. http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/ Gleiser started out his professional life as a string theorist, enchanted by the prospect of finding a unified theory, and for many years that motivated his research: The fact that the [lightest, stable superpartner] particle has so far eluded detection doesn’t bode well. To make things worse, results from the giant Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan and the Soudan 2 detector in the United States have ruled out supersymmetric GUT models, at least the simpler ones, based again on the proton lifetime. If SUSY is a symmetry of Nature, it is very well hidden. Over the years he began to become disillusioned with this quest, not only with string theory, but also with other closely associated ideas (e.g. GUTs and supersymmetry) about how unification is suppose to happen. Hopes that GUTs would give predictive theories of inflation or proton decay have fallen by the way-side, and about supersymmetry he is “very skeptical”: In his book, he argues repeatedly against the fundamental nature of symmetries in our understanding of physics, seeing the failures of GUTs and supersymmetry as a failure of the idea of getting unification out of larger, more powerful symmetry laws. For him, symmetries are always just approximations, never exactly true principles. The problem with both GUTs and supersymmetry is that one posits a new symmetry only to be faced immediately with the question of how to break it, with no good answer. To be successful, any new symmetry principle needs to come with a compelling explanation of how it is to be realized in fundamental physics.