Beyond Einstein: In Search of the Ultimate Explanation

Albert Einstein spent his last thirty years unsuccessfully searching for a ‘unified theory’ — a single master principle to describe everything in the universe, from tiny subatomic particles to immense clusters of galaxies. In the decades since, generations of researchers have continued working toward Einstein’s dream.

Renowned physicists Leonard Susskind and Jim Gates, and prominent historian Peter Galison discussed what’s been achieved and tackle pivotal questions. Would a unified theory reveal why there is a universe at all? Would it tell us why mathematics is adept at unraveling nature’s mysteries? Might it imply we are one universe of many, and what would that mean for our sense of how we fit into the cosmos? Moderated by Nobel Laureate Paul Nurse.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

The World Science Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Our mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.
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Original Program Date: June 1, 2008
PARTICIPANTS: Janna Levin, Jim Gates, Peter Galison, Leonard Susskind

Participant Introductions 00:00

Why was Einstein interested in the unified theory? 2:39

Where are we today with the unified theory? 7:55

Who was James Maxwell? 12:18

What is string theory? 19:26

The Unified Theory of Biology. 24:28

What biology thinks about String theory. 36:20

How successful have the symmetries been in string theory? 42:40

The unanswerable questions of Physics. 52:57

Why is physics not apparent in our everyday life? 56:40
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