path: Home / "The Midterms" The Theory of Everything
- 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!
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".
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:
"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
"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."
- The American Physical Society Takes Notice of the West Wing
- 2. THE WEST WING: YOU SAY PSYCHIC, I SAY
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).
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
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. . . ."
- 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."
- The Plot Thickens: Some more Details on Superstrings
- Recent Information
- Associated Theories & Definitions
- Caltech & Fermilab
- Book Reviews & Excepts