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Is Grand Unification a Fallacy?

  1. Apr 17, 2009 #1
    Let me define Grand Unification as I use it so there aren't semantical arguments. Some would term this the Theory of Everything, however I'm not very satisfied with that particular phrasing.

    A) The combination of Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear Force into one overarching set of mathematical equations and theorems.

    and/or

    B) The combination of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics into a single theory that describes both the macro and submicro universes using the same principles.


    When Maxwell unified electricity and magnetism it started this overwhelming trend of trying to find the lowest common denominator in physics. For the past 80 years scientists have been trying to devise a way to fit everything under one umbrella. It seems strange now that we've come so close that one might question it. We have M-Theory after all and if CERN can pull gravitons and sparticles out of the LHC then it goes a long ways towards supporting it.

    What happens if they don't though? Do we continue giving credence to string theory? Do we continue to spend valuable man-hours postulating a theory that is unprovable yet undeniable and offers no predictive power? More importantly do we continue the search for the mystical holy grail of physics, Grand Unification?

    We have two entirely different systems. One is a top-down approach in which our universe started from the big bang and has expanded into the vastness of reality. Strong Nuclear Force and Weak Nuclear Force have no meaning in this system. That is to say that we can calculate everything we can know about classical systems without them (Much as Einstein did with GR).

    The other is a bottom-up approach in which matter is a culmination of particles that are pieced together to form everything. In this system Gravity is a non-factor.

    We insist that there has to be just one rule-set that defines both of these systems. I ask why? They are two opposite approaches to defining reality. Are they mutually exclusive? I don't think so. In Computer Science, mathematics, economics, biology and virtually every other science there are multiple solutions and tools used to come to conclusions. While they might be related, it's fallacy to insist that they have to fall into one well defined structure.

    It feels as though we've been swept up into a theory of elegance. Our concepts must be elegant otherwise they're wrong. Elegance for the sake of Elegance. I say who cares about elegance as long as what we predict can be matched by observation. When did Occam's Razor become the ultimate factor of determining truth? Figure it out first, then reduce and refine it. Instead we walk in saying that if it doesn't meet some predefined criteria of elegance and conformity with Unification then it must be wrong.

    If a Grand Unification Theory is possible, it will come. I think that going out of one's way to force it however is the wrong approach. When we start with a preconceived notion that physics has to fit into some greater scheme then we're doing it an injustice and limit our potential.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2009 #2
    Human logic is extremely powerful, as far as we are concerned. If we strain our reasoning capabilities to the maximum and find this elusive mathematical order, what would it mean and suggest about the nature of reality?

    Is everyone comfortable with a completely comprehensible and logical universe?
     
  4. Apr 17, 2009 #3
    This is not an answer to why. Why does GR and QM need to fit? Other than our own intuition what gives us any indication that two so different systems have to have an underlying common model?

    This is a serious question. There have been countless hours invested into creating a unified theory and I still don't know where in the rules it states that they have to be, should be, or even can be unified.

    I'm sure there are those that are threatened by the prospect of understanding. This however was not the topic of discussion. It's a valid conversation and one that should be addressed. There are many implications of a "completely comprehensible and logical universe". Perhaps a new topic should be started.

    In lieu of that, I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out if Unification is based on correlation or causation.
     
  5. Apr 17, 2009 #4
    Well i think it stems from the fact that both GR and QM are not separate from reality. We dont have a pocket of quantum universe and a pocket of gravitational universe that dont interact, we see the quantum interact with the gravitational all the time. Since they interact there must be a theory, mathematics or model that is common to both.

    And anyway we've also combined the weak nuclear force with electromagnetism so thats 3 different forces unified thus far.
     
  6. May 10, 2009 #5
    If a Grand Unification Theory is possible, it will come. I think that going out of one's way to force it however is the wrong approach. When we start with a preconceived notion that physics has to fit into some greater scheme then we're doing it an injustice and limit our potential.

    Could it be that unresolved questions related to HUP, the EPR Effect and the counter intuitive facts related to the Twin Particle Paradox - suggest that both branches are still looking for answers? I am not sure that I can suggest this without violating PF rules. I've already had a 'warning' at 'guessing'. In the wild hope that no-one finds this offensive, could it be precisely because there's an intuitive need to resolve the causal with the corelated as you've proposed? And perhaps, quite simply, knowing everything and calling a halt exactly where we are and no further - would constrain all future research to known paradigms. That would be not so much a scientific breakthrough but a scientific conclusion.
     
  7. May 10, 2009 #6

    Isn't it obvious that the universe is one whole? Are you suggesting there is one quantum and one classical universe? If that is your statement, it is very wrong.
     
  8. May 10, 2009 #7
    Isn't it obvious that the universe is one whole? Are you suggesting there is one quantum and one classical universe? If that is your statement, it is very wrong.

    In fairness, I did not see this as the proposed. As I read it, A4mula suggested that QM and CT sufficiently described two aspects of the one universe. There was no need, therefore, for the artificial imposition of the grand unifying. So, as I understood the question it was the view of the universe either top down or bottom up - depending on the discipline both being adequate for each view. Always the same universe. I rather agree with this as there was also a tacit acceptance of the fact that GUT would eventually come - naturally and in due course. This implies that even A4mula sees a need.

    But I'm supposing. Perhaps A4mula should speak for himself.
     
  9. May 10, 2009 #8

    And this is very wrong, as i've pointed out earlier to a4mula. There are many many quantum phenomena in the classical world - electricity, light, colour, "touch", solidity of matter, etc etc. The quantum world is interwoven with the classical in many levels and they are inseparable. This is good enough reason for physicists to consider that a GUT is very likely possible, if not now, at least in the future when we'll have a more complete knowledge about the building blocks of the universe and how everything fits together.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2009
  10. May 10, 2009 #9
    Consider: gravitational space,time become energetic spacetime.

    Then quanta are free, as energy to become gravitational. Plasmas are algebraic.
    Look at the luminescent gas around the Milky Way arm of the local gravitational defect in spacetime, and tell yourself "it's full of stars"

    Open pod bay
     
  11. May 10, 2009 #10
    That's not what I'm suggesting at all. I just see no need of a single set of laws that are all-encompassing. That's not the same as saying there cannot be. My only point, which I concluded the original post with was that our search for grand unification creates an artificial paradigm to which every thing is viewed. If a new theory is presented that doesn't coexist with this idea then it holds less weight then one that does. There in lies the fallacy. We're trying to tackle this problem all at once, or not at all. History and logic shows that we'd be much better served with compartmentalizing and tackling one small problem at a time thus leading to a better overall view of our reality.
     
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