The Theory of Everything
A theory of everything (TOE) is a hypothetical framework explaining all known physical phenomena in the universe. Researchers have searched for such a model ever since the development of quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein's theory of relativity in the early 20th century. Each of these pillars of modern physics describes its respective area of inquiry — the very smallest and the most massive things in the cosmos — with astounding accuracy, but both quantum mechanics and relativity fail when applied to each other's subject matter. So far, an overarching theory of everything has eluded scientists, and some believe the ultimate goal is unrealistic.
From miniscule quarks to the vastness of the universe, from tiny to humungous, how do you explain it? The Theory of Everything. Galacti muses over a few simple questions based on proven scientific fact: How can an ever-expanding explosion come from a pinhead? If there are four forces that govern the explosion, what is the force behind this phenomenon, the force that caused the initial inflation of the universe? (Inventory of the Universe, chapter 1.10) In other words, why wasn’t the explosion of elementary particles homogenous like a bowl of creamy asparagus soup (Galacti’s favorite), but rather like chicken soup, with bits and pieces agglutinating and floating all over the place? And how does gravity play a part? To begin to answer these questions, Galacti completes his diagram from the “digital library” of the universe by presenting the four forces that govern our entire universe from the most miniscule to the most gargantuan (see diagram below).
Based on a series of lectures given at Cambridge University, Professor Hawking's work introduced "the history of ideas about the universe" as well as today's most important scientific theories about time, space, and the cosmos in a clear, easy-to-understand way. "The Theory of Everything" presents the most complex theories, both past and present, of physics; yet it remains clear and accessible. It will enlighten readers and expose them to the rich history of scientific thought and the complexities of the universe in which we live.
What is commonly (though colloquially) called a Theory of Everything (ToE) in physics really is meant to be a theory of everything: a unified theory of all physical fields, including fields that we usually associate with various forms of matter as well as fields that we usually think of as forces, the latter including gravity. In principle, if one had the equations of a ToE at hand, it would be possible to derive every other natural law from them, including all the laws of physics, chemistry, even molecular biology. So yes, everything very much means everything in this case. A ToE would be a step up from a GUT, or Grand Unified Theory, which unifies all forms of matter and the three “gauge” fields of interactions: electromagnetism, the weak and the strong nuclear force, but not gravity. Such a theory would replace the rather imperfect unification in the Standard Model of particle physics with something more fundamental, while also accounting for a few things that the Standard Model cannot explain, such as the observed masses of fermions or the fact that the electron and the proton have opposite but otherwise identical electric charge.