The World in an Equation

Credit: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Credit: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

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The quest for a unified theory from quantum to cosmos

"The universe is not like a machine or a digital computer. It operates on quantum laws whose full meaning and implications we are still discovering. According to these laws, we are not irrelevant bystanders."

Over the past century, physicists have compiled a neat, one-line equation that describes how the world works according to all known physics. By combining the contributions of scientists from all different backgrounds and cultures, this ambitious formula seeks to describe the universe's machinations on every scale, from the subatomic to the largest bodies at the edges of space. It's a testament not only to what we know, but also to who we are: By its very existence, it celebrates the insights and perspectives that our different origins provide. Whether it's Emmy Noether, a Jewish woman teaching physics without pay, or Neil Turok, training the next Einstein at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, we're all in this together.

But the formula is not yet complete, and other attempts to find a theory of everything, like string theory, have their own problems. Physics needs to step back, stop trying to squeeze data to arbitrarily fit equations, and find new ways of looking at the magic we have already discovered together.

READ AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 4: THE WORLD IN AN EQUATION

Continue to Lecture 5: The Opportunity of All Time



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