Einstein’s Last Stand

Einstein’s Last Stand

What binds us together? No, I don’t mean emotionally. What forces hold we humans and the rest of the universe together? Why are we not just individual constituent quarks, and other quantum particles floating around in the soup of space?

The answer is an easy one even for those with little scientific training. We have all heard of the basic forces, but let me describe them here. There are four basic forces known. Electromagnetism is the force that acts between electrically charged particles. Gravitation is by far the weakest force, but it has properties that act on all bodies in the universe. Then there are the two nuclear forces. Weak nuclear forces are responsible for some nuclear events, but are far secondary to the strong nuclear forces. These strong forces are what act against the electromagnetic force to hole the nucleus of an atom together. Therefore, this unbelievably powerful force is the bang behind an atom bomb.

It has been discovered that some of these forces act together (an for those of you whom I have bored to tears already, stay with me it will get better.) an electroweak interaction has been discovered. Although these forces are very different at low energies, at some very high level of energy they merge. This fact led to a group of scientists receiving a Nobel Prize in physics in 1979. there is also a theory that could link the electroweak and the strong nuclear force. However, there has never been a link found between the gravitational and all of the others. Thus the question, what binds us together?

The grand unification theory (sometimes dubbed “The theory of everything”) is a theory of the last force. It is the force that binds everything. Einstein, like Custer, was defeated in his last stand. He worked for twenty years, in relative obscurity, trying to mathematically prove that everything was somehow connected. He was first trying to synthesize the theories of gravitation and electromagnetism. These two forces are very alike. They are not dependent on distance, and they are very weak. Gravitation was a force described by Einstein during his writing on general relativity.

One thing to realize, is that physics comes very close to religion. When one studies the subject they become significantly absorbed. The topic is one that engenders a large amount of faith also. The two diverge in the fact that you can prove the existence of physical data, but the proof of God or gods is much more difficult. But let’s mesh this discussion with that of grand unification. There seems to be some grand unifying force that ties it all together. Its like a word that is stuck “on the tip of your tongue.” It is there, but just out of reach. The study of a supreme being is much the same. You can almost see conclusive proof, but just like some theoretical concepts you have to have faith. Therefore, maybe the grand unifying force and God are the same thing.