West Wing Continuity Guide
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In #25 "The Midterms" Aaron Sorkin (the writer of the fictional episode) makes the claim within the episode that on November 2, 2000 physicists at Caltech and Fermilabs "announced" that String Theory had produced a Theory of Everything. This was written/filmed around July or August and broadcast October 18, 2000 so Sorkin does seem to be dealing with psychics (as C.J. claims) not physicists (as Josh claims). And we believe those psychics are wrong and that physicists are NOT THAT close to a Unified Field Theory --- at least not in this world!Fermilab

You know, it is interesting: if Sorkin had done something similar to this in the field of law (or phone booths), we would have had two dozen emails by now pointing out the "mistake/problem/difference/whatever".

On September 2, 2003 the New York Times really did put a story about String Theory and the Theory of Everything on the home page of its online version. Though it was discouraging to those waiting for the solution to the problem.

In the meantime, we have come up with some interesting references (see below) for those of you who might want to do your own research on the subject. This will keep expanding, but we wanted to have something up as soon as possible. Note: We were shocked at the fact that almost none of these articles give any indication of how up-to-date they are or when they were written or revised.

Responses from the Physics community including Caltech and FermiLab:

And we just heard (Oct. 24, 2000) from John Schwarz in the Caltech Department involved in such study: Caltech
    "As regards gravity the situation is as follows: The most successful theory so far is Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, this theory is not consistent with quantum mechanics, which is very well established. String theory provides a theoretical framework that is consistent with quantum mechanics and that agrees with general relativity at low energies. So in this sense it does "look like gravity". It is different from general relativity at high energies (or short distances), but those differences have not yet been observed, because current experiments cannot detect them.
    "String theory also seems to be able to accommodate the other known forces and elementary particles. So many theorists are optimistic that it will eventually lead to a complete unified theory of all particles and forces. My guess is that this will take a long time to achieve."

On November 9, we heard from Mike Perricone, Fermilab Office of Public Affairs who wrote:
    "No, we don't have a Theory of Everything. Superstrings is a nice theory, along with extra dimensions, but they aren't yet in the realm of something that can be proven experimentally.
    "At Fermilab, our next big experimental run (which we call "Tevatron Collider Run II") will begin in March 2001. We're working diligently in the areas of CP Violation, exploring the differences between matter and antimatter; Supersymmetry, the possibility that the fundamental particles we know all have "superpartners" at much higher mass ranges; and the brass ring, the discovery of the Higgs boson, theorized as the particle which imparts the property of mass to all other particles.
    ". . . We were quite flattered by the reference, and received several calls about it. We'd be interested in knowing how it came about."

We also heard (Oct. 23, 2000) from from Phil Schewe of the American Institute of Physics who says:
    "Physicists believe that their new string theories HAVE succeeded in unifying all the forces, including gravity. The trouble is that they have no way of proving it right now. Gravity, as important as it is in relation to the stars and in keeping us anchored to the earth, is really very weak, so weak in reference to the other known forces, that it's diffcult to test any prediction because the effect would be swamped by the other forces.
    "For a nice recent article in Scientific American, see the August 2000 issue."

Web Resources
  • The American Physical Society Takes Notice of the West Wing
    This week's episode of the popular TV drama opened with the sacred words "It's called the theory of everything." It's delivered by a guy who is bedridden. . . . He tells the White House spokeswoman to lead with the announcement that physicists have answered the big question. She strides into the press room, stares confidently at the bloodthirsty Washington press corps and says "Psychics at Cal Tech and Fermi Lab..." (This was on their "What's New Section" the weel of October 20: the "What's New" Section is from Bob Park and at the bottom says: "(Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)"
  • Basic Information on Superstrings and the Theory of Everything
    • A THEORY OF EVERYTHING? - By Dr. Michio Kaku Prof. of Theoretical Physics City College of New York (This article is a remarkably readable introduction to the Theory but it seems to have first been published in 1992 and is not useful for deciding how soon String Theory could actually come up with a Unified Field Theory: sometimes called a Theory of Everything).
    • Superstrings Last updated September 25th, 2000 - Might be an extraordinarily useful site if we weren't so distracted by all the animated gifs we couldn't read the text. We think it's an updated but shortened version of the article above.
    • SUPER G-STRING FIELD THEORY - Not to be taken seriously but really funny
      Example: "we begin by setting up some notational conventions (since nobody ever invites us to any other kind). We use Roman indices for vectors and Greek indices for spinors, except on Thursdays, when we do the opposite. This notation is unambiguous, since we use index-free notation anyway, which means you have to guess what all the indices are. Sometimes we also use symbol-free notation, so you also have to guess whether there is an equation there at all."
    • Official String Theory Web Site - simple information recommended by the editors of the String Theory section of Yahoo
    • A World of String - little short paragraphs on different aspects, mostly from John Schwarz & David Gross
    • Yahoo references at Science > Physics > Theoretical Physics > Theories > String Theories - references to some interesting sites
    • Superstrings! String Theory Home Page - Introduction to Superstrings from UCSB - Last Modified: 9/21/1999 by John M. Pierre (recommended by Scientific American
    • Superstring Theory - Last updated 1995 - "String theory is based on the premise that the elementary constituents of matter are not described correctly when we model them as point-like objects. Rather, according to this theory, the elementary ``particles'' are actually tiny closed loops of string. . . ."
  • The Plot Thickens: Some more Details on Superstrings
  • Recent Information
  • Associated Theories & Definitions
  • Caltech & Fermilab
  • Book Reviews & Excepts
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