Theory of Everything is the final goal for science. Scientists want to discover a framework by which they can explain everything that is possible in Physics, one that will work both for classical and quantum physics, at the macro level and micro level. It is one all-encompassing theory explaining all of physics, a unified approach which explains the laws of the universe. It also has Singularity and includes all the laws of Physics.
This is a lofty goal. The goal is to find the underlying reality for matter, energy and all the forces in the Universe. Basically, find the substratum, the source of the universe. This substratum or source should explain everything in the universe. Both living and nonliving beings should evolve from this source. This is a tough ask. There is no denying that science has made a great deal of progress. The question is: Is it ready to reach for the final frontier – Theory of Everything. The focus of this article to make an in-depth investigation and see if science is ready to climb the final mountain and uncover the Theory of Everything
A lot has happened over the past 125 years. A great deal of progress has been made to understand the buildup of matter. Knowledge has been gained regarding the building blocks of the universe. Let us trace some of the key milestones in our long scientific journey so far:
390BC – Democritus, a Greek philosopher suggested that the smallest particle in the universe is what he called an Atomos. The word atom comes from here.
1890’s – JJ Thompson discovered the negatively charged electrons
1910’s – Rutherford discovered the positively charged protons
1930’s – Chadwick discovered the neutron to complete the atomic structure.
1950’s – A wide range of new particles were discovered, which led to the coining of the phrase ‘particle zoo’
1960’s – Discovery of the different types of quarks, which make up protons and neutrons.
1970’s – All the new particles were arranged as the Standard Model.
2010’s – Discovery of the Higgs Boson, which is added to the standard model
2020’s? – Hopefully, they will discover the missing particle for gravity in the standard model.
Understanding the standard model
It was thought that everything is made up of atoms. Then it was discovered that atoms themselves were made up of a nucleus containing protons and neutrons and that electrons were revolving around it. Later, it was found that protons and neutrons were made of up quarks and down quarks.
In particle accelerators when particles were smashed, a wide variety of new particles were discovered. The term ‘particle zoo’ was used for these new particles. On analyzing these particles, it was found that many of them had the same or similar substratum. Based on this understanding, in the 1970’s, the standard model was formulated. This standard model showed the elementary particles which make up everything in this universe. They are called elementary particles because it is believed that they cannot be divided anymore. Every living and nonliving being in the universe is made up of elementary particles included in the standard model.
The standard model also includes the different forces which hold the elementary particles together. These forces are also made up of particles. Matter is made of particles and forces are also made of particles. Strange but true!
The standard model shown below is like the periodic table taught in a chemistry class. The periodic table is laid out in a systematic and logical way to include all the elements in the universe. In the same way the standard model lays out the elementary particles in a logical manner.
The standard table can be divided into two parts. The first 3 columns are elementary particles which make up matter and the remaining columns are particles which pertain to force. Understanding the details of the standard model is not critical for this article. But let’s briefly discuss it to set the scene. There are two parts to consider.
Elementary Particles for Matter:
The first 3 columns pertain to elementary particles for matter. There are 12 elementary particles for matter. The first column is what we encounter in our daily lives. All the objects around us are made up of elementary particles in the first column. The particles in the second and third columns are found in high energy situations like the stars and the sun. The four cells in the first column can be described as follows:
Quarks: The quarks in the top two cells are the building block for protons and neutrons. 2 up quarks and one down quark make up a proton. 2 down quarks and one up quark make up a neutron. This applies to all the protons and neutrons in the universe. The cousins of quarks are shown in column 2 and 3.
Electrons: This is the electron we know, which revolves the nucleus. The cousins of electrons are shown in column 2 and 3.
Neutrino: The most abundant particle in the universe, but largely unknown. The reason is that it does not interact with any matter. It is a silent operator. At this moment, millions of neutrinos are passing through your body. The neutrinos are generated because of radioactive decay. There are 2 different varieties of neutrinos as shown in column 2 and 3.
Elementary Particles for Forces:
There are 4 fundamental forces in the universe. These are shown in column 4 of the standard model. There is a particle which generate these forces. Yes, it does seem strange, but there is a particle which creates force.
Electromagnetic Force: This is a force which repel particles with a similar charge and attracts those with an opposite charge. The force particle which mediates this repulsion and attraction is a photon. The way the photon force mediates between two similar charged particles is simple and interesting. To compare, think of two people playing ‘catch’ with a baseball. When they catch the ball, the force pushes the person backwards. For the baseball, the force may be small, but with a heavier ball the force could substantial. When he returns the ball, the other person is pushed back. With this continuous up and down, the two people are being pushed further apart. This is what happens when the photon is shared between two similar charged particles. The two similar charged are pushed apart, with a continuous up and down movement of the photon. The photon is the force which helps repel these particles.
Strong Force: This force operates within the nucleus only. Logically the two positively charged protons should repel each other by electromagnetic force. However, there is a strong force which holds similarly charged protons together in the nucleus. The strong force is 100 times stronger than the electromagnetic force and it overcomes the repulsive force. The gluon is the strong force particle which mediates within the nucleus.
Weak Force: The weak force also operates within the nucleus of the atom. In atoms with many protons and neutrons, the nucleus can be unstable. The weak force facilitates the decay of the atom. Radioactive decay is the best example. The W and Z are the two force particles which mediates the decay of the nucleus.
Gravity Force: Gravity is the most common force, which allows the attraction between any two objects. A lot is known about the effects of this force, but little is known about the cause. Physicists think that there is a force particle called graviton which mediates this force. The property of this force particle is known, but unfortunately this force particle is yet to be discovered. The search continues.
Grand Unified Theory (GUT): At the time of the big bang all the 4 forces were unified. The forces came from a single source. The search is being made to find the single source for the 4 fundamental forces. As you increase the energy level, you will be able to locate the single source. Science successfully unified the electromagnetic and the weak force. They call it the electroweak force. Science knows that if you increase the energy levels, these fundamental forces can also be unified. The problem is that it is impossible to experimentally prove it. Human beings cannot generate that amount of energy required for the unification.
Limitations of the Standard Model
The standard model is not the Theory of Everything. The theory of everything must have singularity. You cannot have 12 elementary particles for matter and 4 force particles. There must be a single source which creates both the particles for matter and particles for force. Both must come from the same source. This means there is something deeper which is the cause of the standard model. Science also agrees with this. They are currently building much more powerful particle accelerators with the hope of discovering this singularity. They plan to smash particles with much higher energy to discover the underlying reality.
String Theory is another pursuit which seeks the substratum of everything. In String Theory, it is believed that matter and force are made up of strings. These strings are vibrating in 10 dimensions. These vibrations are supposed to be the source for particles in the standard model. This knowledge is still theoretical with no experimental proof.
Even if the vibrating strings are the substratum of the standard model, you can still ask the question – what the cause of the strings is? What are they made of? This will lead to another round of scientific investigation. If they do find the substratum of the vibrating strings, the same question can be asked – what is that substratum made of?
This can be a never-ending quest to find the ultimate substratum – the ultimate theory of everything. How do we solve this never-ending problem? The only solution is to find a new and different approach to the question of Singularity – The Theory of Everything.
Theory of Everything – A New Approach
The best way to start this discussion is to understand the popular Vedanta metaphor of the Pot/Clay. We know the clay pot comes in many different sizes, shapes, and designs. If you study all the clay pots carefully you will see that each clay pot has the following two components – Content and Form. So, which part is the content and which part is the form? The answer is obvious, the clay is the content and the pot is a form of the clay. With different shapes and sizes, the form of the pot could vary, but the content of all pots will always be clay.
Clay Pot = Clay (content) + Pot (form)
A simple question – in the clay pot, what is the weight of the clay which is the content and what is weight of the pot which is a form? The answer is obvious, the clay has all the weight and pot has no weight. Another question – can you separate the pot form from the clay content? The answer is that it is impossible to separate the pot form from the clay content. They are inseparable. Form of the pot is an idea or concept which has been superimposed on the clay.
This Vedantic metaphor can help us understand the underlying components for every object in this physical universe. Every object in the universe must have the following two components
What is the Content Made up of?
So, what is the Content for all the objects in the universe? As Vedanta teaches us, a good starter question is – how do we know an object exists? The simple answer is that we are aware of the object. We see it, we know it, we can touch it.
- How do we know the tree is green? Because we are aware of it.
- How do we know sugar is sweet? Because we are aware of it.
- How do we know we have two legs and two hands? Because we are aware of it.
- How do we know the weight of the chair is 20 lbs.? Because we are aware of it.
- How do we know the smooth touch of silk? Because we are aware of it.
- How do we know we are listening to music? Because we are aware of it.
The common thread to all these questions is Awareness. It would seem Awareness is a prerequisite to observe any object. Awareness is a prerequisite for the existence of any object. Without awareness, we would not know any objects which are perceived by the 5 senses – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. These objects coming from our sensory organs must encounter Awareness, then only we can observe the object. For an analogy, think of the sun. When there is no light from the sun, you cannot see anything, but in the presence of the light everything becomes visible. In the same way when any form comes in the presence of the light of Awareness, we become aware of the object. If there is no light of Awareness, you will perceive nothing, and no object will exist.
So, what is Awareness and what does Awareness have to do with the content of the object? Everything. Awareness is the content of all the objects in the universe. The content of the objects from the 5 senses is Awareness only. To any newcomer, Awareness is just another English word, with a dictionary meaning ‘knowledge or perception of a situation or fact’. Awareness is much more than an English word.
Awareness is the most powerful force in the universe, and it is the underlying reality of this universe. It has the power to connect with a form present in the mind and fill up the object with Awareness. If you analyze Awareness, you can conclude that Awareness is made up of a Subject, Intelligence and Object with the following functions:
- There must be a Subject, who is Aware of the experience. This subject is the knower of the Awareness
- There must be an Object, which must be experienced. This object is the known part of the Awareness
- There must be Intelligence by which the subject gets to know the object. This is the knowing part of the Awareness
Knower, Known and Knowing/Intelligence are the 3 powers of Awareness. It must be clear that
- Awareness = Subject + Object + Intelligence
- Power of Awareness = Power of Knower + Power of Knowing + Power of Known
Awareness is made of Subject, Intelligence and Object and it has three different powers – Knower, Knowing and Known. It must be understood that the Subject, Intelligence and Object and the three powers are not something outside in the world, but they are within Awareness and make up Awareness. If any one of them is missing, the awareness will not work, and will be incomplete.
- If there is an object to be observed, but there is no subject, there will be no awareness, as there is no one to see the object.
- If there is a subject, but no object to see, there will no awareness as the subject has no objects to observe
- If there is an object, but the subject has no way of knowing what this object is, no awareness will take place. This knowing must have intelligence.
Wherever there is awareness, the Subject, Intelligence and Object must be present with all the three powers. To understand how the content of every object in this universe is only awareness, we need to understand the Power of the Known.
Power of Known (of Objects)
Power of Known is a power within Awareness. It is a power which deals with objects. It deals with the objects received from the 5 senses. A better way to understand the Power of Known is that it is a power to become any object. This power does not create any objects, but it has the ingredients to become the object which is superimposed by the 5 senses on this power.
If you see a round circle, then awareness cannot take shape of a square. If it does, you will never experience the round circle. Awareness must also be a round circle with the same exact dimensions. If you see a tree, then awareness must also take the shape of the tree. This tree must be filled up with Awareness. If the tree is half filled with awareness or the awareness does not have the same shape as the tree, you will not be aware of the tree.
If you want to observe any object with form:
- The visible form must be filled with Awareness and nothing but Awareness. Filling up does not mean Awareness must be inside the tree. You have no awareness for the inside of the tree. You do not see the inside of the tree. The skin of the tree is filled up of Awareness. If the skin of the tree does not have Awareness, then the observer or subject will not be able to experience the object with that form.
- Awareness must take the exact shape of the form.
It is therefore correct to conclude that the content of the object must be Awareness. Awareness by itself is formless, but it has the potential to become any object. The object it will become depends up on the input received from the 5 senses. A good metaphor to explain this is that it is like a lump of playdoh which is formless, but you can manipulate the playdoh to any shape. Whatever shape you create, the content is always playdoh. In the same way, the content of all the objects in the universe is only Awareness. It can take any shape or form, but the content is always Awareness.
Next time you see a tree, or listen to music or feel the cold water, you must be clear that the tree, music, or water is made up only by Awareness and nothing but Awareness. It is content of every object.
What is Form Made up of?
We now know the Content of any object is Awareness. Where does the Form fit in? In the Clay/Pot example we discussed earlier, we saw that clay is the only content. Pot is not content. Pot is just an idea or concept superimposed on the Clay. The idea Pot is dependent on Clay. Pot has no independent existence. Unfortunately, we only identify with the pot.
In the same way all the objects in the Universe are only made up of Awareness. Awareness is the content of all objects. With our ignorance we do not see this. We focus on the different forms and not the content. We live in a world which thinks that object Forms are the only reality. With this deep-rooted ignorance science is trying to find the Theory of Everything by studying the object Forms. With all the investigation over the centuries, Science has discovered the Standard Model, which is the building block for the object Forms. It is still not the Content of all objects.
Theory of Everything = Awareness
Awareness is the only Content of all objects. It is impossible for science to discover the Real Content of objects by studying object Forms. If science wants to climb the ultimate mountain of discovery, it needs to rethink its approach. Scientists need to realize that Awareness is the only Content of objects. The current path is not going to take them to the final destination.
A question can be asked – where does the universe get the vast amount of energy to sustain and maintain itself? The simple answer is: Awareness. Please read my post ‘Awareness – The Infinite source’. Energy, time, and even entropy are ingredients of Awareness. Everything comes from Awareness. All the laws of Physics come from Awareness. Awareness is the storehouse of all the possible knowledge and intelligence.
How does one investigate Awareness? Luckily, you do not have to hunt for Awareness, it is hiding in plain sight. If you see an object, Awareness is already present in every object. It is right in front of you. It is present in every experience you have. If Science wants to find the Theory of Everything, it must study Awareness. That is the only path forward.
Science must understand and appreciate the different powers of Awareness. Scientists need to change focus from the Form to the Content. That is the only way to discover the Theory of Everything.