This morning I ‘talked’ with a chatbot about ‘The Unified Field Theory.’
For the past few days I have been messing around with ChatGPT – the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) application that has lately captivated the Internet.
Also, for the past couple of months, I have been researching keywords and phrases that I might explore in my posts to draw some traffic toward this website and the book.
Yesterday it occured to me to do some keyword research on the phrase ‘unified field theory’.
The slow-release trigger for this topic first gets pulled in Chapter 6: On The Shoulders of Giants:
….Albert Einstein was not done twisting the fabric of the universe. Earlier that year, he produced the first of a number of papers that dominated the remainder of his life’s work – his quest for the Unified Field Theory. Having redefined gravity, Einstein peered over the edge of the space-time continuum in search of an equation that would connect gravity with the other fundamental force of nature known at the time – electromagnetism.
Einstein had no way of knowing that on the other side or the world, a Cal Tech freshman had found the physical proof of what Einstein was still struggling to express as a theory.
What is the ‘Unified Field Theory’
At the risk of blowing my Google rankings (Google frowns on AI generated content), let’s see what ChatGPT has to say:
The unified field theory, also known as a “theory of everything,” is a proposed set of laws that would unify the two pillars of modern physics: general relativity and quantum mechanics. The goal of a unified field theory is to describe all physical phenomena using a single, consistent framework. The theory would include gravity and electromagnetism as well as the strong and weak nuclear forces and would be able to explain all the properties of matter and energy.
Translation: As discussed previously here, modern science has identified four ‘fundamental forces’ – sometimes called ‘interactions’ – in the universe: electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. A unified field theory would offer a single set of equations that explains them all. However…
… there is currently no single theory that had been accepted by scientific community to explain everything. The leading candidates are theories like string theory and loop quantum gravity.
Or, as the renowned physicist Richard Feynman may have said,
If you think you understand quantum physics, then you don’t understand quantum physics.
What Does the Unified Field Theory Unify?
Einstein had it easy. When he first proposed the Unified Field Theory, he was only trying to express the common denominator between gravity and electromagnetism. Those were the only two fundamental interactions recognized in the first two decades of the 20th century, when Einstein published his most influential work.
The task got harder starting in the 1930s, when Enrico Fermi proposed that the ‘weak nuclear force’ – i.e. radioactive decay – was another fundamental interaction.
It got harder still when the Japanese physicist Hideki Yukawa identified the ‘strong nuclear force’ as yet another fundamenal interaction. The ‘strong force’ is what holds keeps the like-charged protons together in an atomic nucleus.
But wait, that’s not all!
Not only does a Unified Field Theory need to encompass what are now four fundamental interactions, it also needs to reconcile the differences between Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. That is much easier said than done; the two theories have long been considered essentially incompatible. Their reconciliation has eluded the world’s brightest theoretical physicists for decades.
Let’s put all that aside for the time being, and return to the basic question that orbits the life of Townsend Brown:
Can We Link Gravity and Electromagnetism?
That’s the next question I posed to the chatbot, ‘who’ answered (and I’m paraphrasing here):
There have been several attempts to unify gravity and electromagnetism, but none have been conclusively proven. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity describes gravity as the curvature of spacetime caused by the presence of massive objects or energy. However, Einstein’s theories of the macrocosm are incompatible with the quantum mechanics, which governs the microscopic realm of subatomic particles.
In recent years, some theories like Kaluza-Klein theory, Superstring theory and M-theory suggest that gravity and electromagnetism may be unified through a principle known as “gauge symmetry.” These theories propose that gravity is not a separate force from electromagnetism, but rather that it is a manifestation of the curvature of extra dimensions.
Extra dimensions? We’ll come to that in the Townsend Brown story when we get to Chapter 48 – A Universe Away. In the meantime:
What’s All This Got to to do with Townsend Brown?
Scientists are still trying to find the link or connection between gravity and electromagnetism. Cleanly unifying the fundamental forces remains an elusive goal; Einstein’s work was just one part of the journey.
It is the contention of this website – and the book it represents – that Townsend Brown found the physical evidence of that link sometime in the 1920s.
Then the question becomes, where on Einstein’s path will we find T. Townsend Brown?