What effect could a theory of everything have on science?

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I know it's hard to predict but what are the probable outcomes? When I hear about the theory of everything in different situations it always makes me feel that we really want to believe that it will be a final fundamental theory. How could the theoretical work look like after its success? However, I also read that this 'almost there' feeling has always been ruling our hopes and then we suddenly realized that we're not almost there at all.
 

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  • #2
jbriggs444
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I know it's hard to predict but what are the probable outcomes? When I hear about the theory of everything in different situations it always makes me feel that we really want to believe that it will be a final fundamental theory. How could the theoretical work look like after its success? However, I also read that this 'almost there' feeling has always been ruling our hopes and then we suddenly realized that we're not almost there at all.
In some ways it would change nothing. Too many properties are emergent. Knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of the universe likely does not help you cure cancer, send a rocket to Mars, diagnose paranoid schizophrenia or solve the Navier Stokes equation.
 
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In some ways it would change nothing. Too many properties are emergent. Knowledge of the fundamental building blocks of the universe likely does not help you cure cancer, send a rocket to Mars, diagnose paranoid schizophrenia or solve the Navier Stokes equation.
Yes, but what about fundamental research? How would it change?
 
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How could the theoretical work look like after its success?
How would we know that we have been successful in finding the "theory of everything"?
 
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How would we know that we have been successful in finding the "theory of everything"?
By having a theory that describes all the known interactions. I'm not trying to go down the hardcore philosophical road about whether we are able to know everything. What made me think about this question is a paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/0711.0770.pdf Unfortunetaly I don't know enough about physics and maths to understand this, but I read some articles and discussion (even here on PF) about it, and lots of people find this a good candidate for a theory of everything.
 
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In my opinion the paper only says: Look, ##E_8## is large enough to contain all symmetry groups we have so far as subgroups. To me it seems like as if the known models were labeled by volume one to three and all together by ##E_8-##GUT. It doesn't unify, it samples. My impression with such expansions is always: Why don't we take ##SL(10^{100},\mathbb{C})## to contain literally everything?

But this is only a personal view. I'm no physicist. It's what it looks like from a mathematical point of view.
 
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But this is only a personal view. I'm no physicist. It's what it looks like from a mathematical point of view.
That's also how it looks from my view as experimental particle physicist.
If it would be a proper theory it would make predictions that can be tested (at least in principle).
 
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Yes, but what about fundamental research? How would it change?
My guess is that it would turn into philosophy. Instead of asking what the fundamental equations are, deep thinkers would ask what those equations mean.
 
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That's also how it looks from my view as experimental particle physicist.
If it would be a proper theory it would make predictions that can be tested (at least in principle).
As far as I know it predicts the existance of new particles but the theory is not developed enough to be able to say anything about their properties yet.
 
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As far as I know it predicts the existance of new particles but the theory is not developed enough to be able to say anything about their properties yet.
Not that simple then...
It is trivial that there has to be something else, without a more specific prediction it is useless.
 
  • #11
symbolipoint
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Theory Of Everything at best would be great ambition without any path to find the full achievement. One can only focus on a focused topic. "Focused" needs some explanation which maybe other well-educated members could maybe provide.
 
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What is a "theory of everything"? Is it some unifying concept for micro and macro level physics? Hilbert's 6th problem?

If such theory were developed, I imagine much stays the same. We'd potentially have new techniques/new language/terminology to describe and attack some (open) problems.
 
  • #13
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I know it's hard to predict but what are the probable outcomes? When I hear about the theory of everything in different situations it always makes me feel that we really want to believe that it will be a final fundamental theory. How could the theoretical work look like after its success? However, I also read that this 'almost there' feeling has always been ruling our hopes and then we suddenly realized that we're not almost there at all.
Virtually every part of the Universe I have studied over may years leads me to conclude there is endless detail: no smallest small nor largest big. Rather we encounter singularities, catastrophes, critical points, and bifurcations into further detail. I am led therefore to pessimistically conclude there is not nor never will be a theory of everything unless that theory claims there is no theory of everything.
 
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To me it seems that the Wheeler-DeWitt equation might well be the only quite scientific ToE, after all! All the rest may well be "unscientific" (yet, maintaining the Born rule somehow) boundary conditions being (re-)applied to it, at every observation act.
 
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