Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can science claim any unified theories?

  1. Dec 22, 2005 #1
    Will physics be first to attain unification, or has another branch of science already done so?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Do you have a candidate? It's hard for me to envision a "unification" that doesn't incorporate physics.
  4. Dec 22, 2005 #3
    I thought about the possibility of a consistant mathematical theory that also could most exclusively model a specific branch of science. Perhaps more practical are "horizontal" mathematical theories that are applicable to all fields as analogous, comprehensive systems.
  5. Dec 23, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Could you be more explicit about what you mean by "unification"? What criteria could we use to judge whether some field has attained "unification" or not?
  6. Dec 23, 2005 #5
    You mean unification of consciousness and physical reality?
    Theory of everything etc?

    If so I doubt we will ever get one.
    All of the physical world is just our perception, as such we can never be sure we have seen everything.
    One can make a strong argument that that which we can't see doesn't matter, but then again we don't know that either so.
  7. Dec 23, 2005 #6
    probably would be a theory that is wholly one... with no second; ie. no parts or limitations; an absolutely infinite and comprehensive explanation for everything.

    what theory can account for everything? if a theory can't account for everything, then it hasn't met the criteria of "unification".
  8. Dec 31, 2005 #7
    [To Loren]
    Cell Theory (1839, Theodor Schwann) unifys all of biology, e.g., the study of living things. All living things are made of cells--at least one. But I am not sure this is the type of unification you were looking for.
  9. Jan 1, 2006 #8
    "Unification" may be only definable by the real world example we experience. Truly attaining such an understanding may make redundant present realization and its "eventual" unification.

    Is the universe reducible at all, anyway? In mathematics (e. g., physics) is any system simplified without losing information?

    One criterion for unification might be a transformation of the system, mathematically expressed, such that it acquires a greater simplicity relative to a subset of observers. Other subsets may necessarily (by conservation) perceive the system as more complex under the same transformation.
  10. Jan 2, 2006 #9
    Suppose I simplify the operation of multiplication of any two numbers out of an infinite set of possible operations, to the following rules:
    even * even = even
    even * odd = even
    odd * even = even
    odd * odd = odd
    Do I lose any information about the operation of multiplication with this simplification?
    Such a transformation in General Systems Theory is called a "homomorphism", when a many to one transformation, applied to the more complex system, can reduce it to a form that is isomorphic with the simpler. All systems can be thus simplified to a new form when its states can be grouped suitably to form a homomorphic system. A good introduction reference is by Ross Ashby, 1956, An introduction to cybernetics. I am no expert, but perhaps others are and can expand the idea that theory of unification can be derived mathematically from theory of cybernetics.
  11. Jan 2, 2006 #10
    Happy 2006 Loren and everyone.

    This may seem unscientific as a proposal for a unifying theory but there is an obvious commonality held by all forces and all elements in the universe. It is the undeniable condition of the interdependence of things on one another to exist or, in the least, to be observed to exist.

    This interdependence can be lichened to the symbiotic relationships we see between biological agents on earth. However, in this case one must remove themselves from biopomorphism and view existence even more objectively.

    Without going into a detailed account of how all events, elements and so forth are interdependent on one another I would simply cut to the chase here and point out that, hypothetically, the unifying force of all things is that of "interdependence".

    For instance, someone mentioned cybernetics and cybenetics is a good example of what I'm pointing out. It is the utilization of a culmination of disciplines to solve problems and create solutions. In this way cybernetics examplifies how various and often seemingly unrelated systems support one another's claims if not their actual validity.

    From the view of general relativity one would say it is a "chain of events" that has led to all existence as we know it today. From a quantum view the events are interconnected and continuously supporting one another in a simultaneous form of interdependence. And I don't just mean one thing supports another. I mean all things support all things. Every system will be found to support every other system or, to put it in popular terms....."one for all and all for one".
  12. Jan 5, 2006 #11
    To quote James Watson (of Watson - Crick DNA double helix fame):
    There is only one science, Physics......the rest is all social service.

    So there is no 'unification' in science until there is 'unification' in physics.

    On a minor scale, theory of evolution is an unifying principle in biology...because all the subspecialities of biology conform to its principles.
  13. Jan 13, 2006 #12
    I have to detract what I wrote above. Interdependence isn't a unified theory by any means and Cybernetics simply describes the same thing.

    The funny thing about finding something like a theory is you have to know the theory before you will be able to find it, otherwise you won't recognize it if/when you do find it.

    All the indicators of a theory are right before your very eyes and the only thing that will help you see them is if you know what you want to see. So, do the math, connect the dots and we'll all buy your book when it comes out. We'll als expect a ride in the limo etc...:uhh:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook