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TOE and the end of physics

  1. Aug 17, 2011 #1
    I've heard from several physicists that in the next few years, physics might come to an end after completion of the theory of everything and that basically, there's not going to be anything new to research in physics.

    What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think such a theory is possible? Are we close to formulating it and will it indeed end physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2011 #2
    In the next few years?

    Maybe in the next 100 years we will have a theory of everything, but it's highly unlikely.

    It is more likely that we will become less optimistic about a theory of everything. We may even have theories of why there is not a theory of anything. Who knows? We are a long way away...

    Plus, even with a theory of everything, the possibilities in physics and engineering is limitless
  4. Aug 17, 2011 #3


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    In 1992 I'd heard from Fukuyama that history has already ended.
    10 years later a quick walk through Manhattan showed me he was rather wrong.

    Read some texts from end of 19th century. Physics was already just-just-ending over 100 years ago.
  5. Aug 17, 2011 #4
    Even if a "theory of everything" was created (meaning some equation that governs all fundamental interactions), there are still lots of issues with how that relates to larger scale phenomena. For example, General Relativity describes gravity very accurately, but you still have entire journals dedicated to applications of the EFEs in different theoretical cosmic situations.
  6. Aug 17, 2011 #5
    Not to mention there are many seemingly simple phenomena which has yet to be explained. A consistent theory of friction for example.
  7. Aug 17, 2011 #6
    Even if we find a Theory of Everything in the next couple years it will definitely not be the end of physics. It will just provide us with a consistent frame to work with. There are endless applications that will require physicists and engineers to design/test/model, etc. etc. etc.
  8. Aug 17, 2011 #7
    Well, definitely not engineers but will there be a use for theoretical physicists?
  9. Aug 17, 2011 #8
    Sure! Why not? Not everyone is going to have the brains to understand and interpret the theory of everything. If String Theory and LQG are any indicators as to what the language of the TOE might be in then we're definitely going to need Mathematical/Theoretical Physicists around to interpret and improve upon the theory.

    There is also the problem of HOW we can apply the new Theory of Everything. We can easily state once we've found it that yes we know how everything works!! But how can we take that and apply it to something that might be of some use to society. As I have already stated the language of the TOE will be very complex and I feel like what we now call theoretical physicists will be the ones who step in and suggest ideas of how to employ it.
  10. Aug 17, 2011 #9
    I see. Thanks for the answers.
    All I can say is I hope they won't find it. It'll suck if we'll just know how the universe works and end of story.
    It's this little contradiction of scientifically minded people that we want to know, and yet we never want to know everything so that there's always something new to discover.
  11. Aug 17, 2011 #10


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    There's no such thing as a "theory of everything".


  12. Aug 17, 2011 #11
    Roger Penrose wrote that even if we stopped collecting and discovering data and facts, there is still a lifetime of reconciling all that information and making discoveries from what we already have.
  13. Aug 17, 2011 #12
    Well, I wasn't taking the term 'theory of everything' literally of course. I was specifically asking if the discovery of it would result in the end of the science of physics, and also how likely we are to see this theory anytime soon.
  14. Aug 17, 2011 #13


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    But isn't THAT the whole implication of this TOE being the "end of physics"? That someone thinks that after such discovery, no more new and interesting stuff are left?

    So yes, it is literally THE theory of everything! And that is a fallacy.

  15. Aug 17, 2011 #14
    Well, glad to hear that it's a fallacy!

    Thanks everybody!
  16. Aug 17, 2011 #15


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    How come membrane's post counter shows 0, yet he has 5 posts only in this thread.

  17. Aug 17, 2011 #16
    Actually, good question.
  18. Aug 17, 2011 #17
    The statistics show membrane has only posted in General Discussion. Posts don't count in this forum.
  19. Aug 17, 2011 #18


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    By the end of the 1950's science had discovered all the natural chemical elements of the universe.

    Has the science of chemistry come to a grinding halt and all the chemists gone to pasture?
  20. Aug 17, 2011 #19


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    If they did, some of us would have a bazillion :redface:.
  21. Aug 17, 2011 #20


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    So either the counter state or the posters here are destined to loose mass, this might be my last post in this section.

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