Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Unified Field
Name: N/A
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

Albert Einstein's biggest disappointment was his inability to prove a unified field theory. Since his attempts, others have endeavored to succeed. Has there been any resent attempts or developments in solving the unified field riddle? If so, by whom, and what are the latest results?

Yes, there have been a lot of recent attempts. In fact rather a flurry of books have been published on the subject recently (there is one by Leon Lederman, and I think one by Murray Gel-Mann). The main problem is that we have some vague theoretical ideas about how the unification works, but there are almost NO experimental tests that can be done right now in the region where these theories really need to be tested to distinguish which one is right. Part of the purpose of the SSC (killed by Congress) was to start probing this interesting experimental regime, to perhaps start winnowing out the many proposed theories. However, a machine with a power some billion times that of the SSC would be needed to really probe the region where things get interesting for unification (the so-called Planck scale) and that is not likely to be available anytime in the next millenium. So, yes there are plenty of theories, but unfortunately, unlike the situation with Einstein, experiments will be very necessary to decide which theory is right, and those experiments do not seem to be even on the horizon right now. The other recent book was by Weinberg, not Gel-Mann. There is an interesting review of it in last October's New York Times book supplement (forget what it is called) by Roger Penrose.

Arthur Smith

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory