Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Two theories of almost everything

The standard model of particle physics constitutes a huge development for modern physics, going a long way to fulfilling the physicist's ultimate dream, a 'Theory of Everything'. It describes all of the fundamental building blocks of matter known to exist, three of the four known forces that determine how they interact, and it even tells us how matter has mass at all. This last feat, of course, is achieved by the Higgs Boson.

The force that the standard model notoriously finds too challenging to describe is the very first force we learn about at school, gravity. Our best theory of gravity is Einstein's general relativity. Unifying the current standard model with general relativity would successfully create a Theory of Everything.

It seem rather simple then, doesn't it, to fulfil the physicist's dream? However, the current standard model and general relativity have proven horrendously difficult to unify, with attempts resulting in 'complete nonsense'. Physicists have turned their hopes onto other theories (including the commonly cited string theory), in the hope that these new routes will be more fruitful.

There, for now, the standard model remains: alongside Einstein's general relativity as one of two theories almost everything.

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