• May 23, 2020, 2:22 a.m.

    Are Eric Weinstein and Brian Greene barking up the wrong tree?

    Eric Weinstein is a mathematician working on a theory called, “Geometric Unity”. Brian Greene is a physicist working on a theory called, “String Theory”. Both are hoping the theories they are working on become the master, all-encompassing, coherent, theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe! In other words, both are trying to discover the Theory of Everything!

    I think Weinstein, Greene, and many others, may be on a fools errand. There probably is no theory of everything. Consider the following argument.

    Premise 1: Emergent systems require, multiple, separate, distinct, and completely unrelated rules in order to exist. You can't have an emergent system with just one underlying rule.
    Premise 2: The universe is an emergent system.
    Conclusion: Therefore no single rule, physical law, or theory can ever fully explain the existence of the Universe in its current form.

    Premise 1 is as far as I know just my own conjecture. If I am the first to propose this conjecture, then lets call it “Migala's conjecture”. I don't know if it is true. It seems to me to be intuitively true but I can't prove it. You can't describe how the slime mold solves a complex maze with just one rule or procedure. The novel phenomena seen in Conway's game of life can't occur if the game is built around just a single rule.

    Premise 2 is obviously true. The universe transformed from a quark-gluon soup to a machine which manufactures things which ponders it as result of rules operating on matter/energy. If the universe isn't an emergent system what is?

    So in conclusion, a set of different and unrelated theories is the best you can ever do. There is no theory of everything available to us that we can discover.

  • May 24, 2020, 8:08 a.m.

    You are considering issues that are right at the core of scientific philosophy let alone physics.

    There is certainly a sense that we are 'digging down' further and further the rules the universe has the more we discover. But at its core is still that question: Is there a single rule? This is the 'beauty' that many physicists yearn for - simplicity is often found as the source of complexity and this has yielded us useful results so far.

    We are at this time in an unenviable position of discovering many sub-atomic particles, bosons, hadrons and fermions, yet not finding the set of rules that link them. When you think about it: why is there 17 subatomic particles? Why is the sub-atomic world so complex? It does seem rather odd, and the universe at this time seems to be 'cobbled together' from disparate parts. It is a confusing time, because our minds are used to trying to find patterns and making sense by finding rules that determine what we see.

    Your Conjecture is a reasonable question to ask: Why should we favour simplicity being no further basic rules to discover that make up our current complex understanding? I suppose we don't know, it would be indeed odd either way: Let's say there is no 'Theory of Everything' it would be equally strange if this would be the case - why indeed would the universe have so many different systems and laws that are unrelated? It seems so unfathomable to us and so we must ask that question: how could this have come to be?

    Then we end up right where we started. We need to keep probing, keep testing this and questioning this. In a way, the endless questioning and testing is what science is: and how we keep making discoveries.

  • May 26, 2020, 6:21 a.m.

    Is it indeed odd either way? We can and have observed many emergent systems. Schools of fish, Slime molds solving mazes, Conway's game of life, ant lines, the formation of solar systems from clouds of dust, etc. Some of those systems are simple enough that we likely know everything there is to know about them. Or at the very least we know enough to draw a reasonable conclusion. Have we ever observed an emergent system that could be explained with just one rule or procedure? I don't believe we have. It seems that it is ordinary that emergent systems spring forth from multiple unrelated rules/procedures. Springing forth from just one is the extraordinary speculative case. Other than our desire for physics to be elegantly simple, what objective reason is there to believe that it is?

    I realized that any physical theory, like Special Relativity, is going to emerge as a consequence of postulates and axioms....which I suppose can be considered to be unrelated rules or procedures. The upside is my conjecture won't be demolished if a theory of everything is found!