Particle Metaphysics; February 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Horgan; 9 Page(s)
More than 150 years ago Michael Faraday revealed through a series of brilliant experiments that electricity and magnetism are manifestations of the same underlying force. Inspired by this success, Faraday sought to demonstrate that electromagnetism is similarly linked to gravity, which Newton had mathematically described some 150 years earlier. Although he failed, Faraday remained convinced that such a unified theory existed.
Many--though certainly not all--modern physicists have come to share Faraday's faith that nature's seemingly distinct forces are but facets of a single, symmetrical jewel. The quest to find this touchstone has transformed modern physics into an epic drama, one with primordial roots. In his recent book Dreams of a Final Theory, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas says a unified theory would bring to fruition "the ancient search for those principles that cannot be explained in terms of deeper principles." Could it be that this quest will never be completed?