Once in a blue moon, humanity is graced by what we can only assume is a divine supergenius. Socrates, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Elon Musk. While it’s obvious that these people aren’t actually endowed with superpowers and that they just put more work into what they did than any other rational person would, you can’t help but wonder where they got the drive to do what they do. Albert Einstein, the man responsible for the theory of general and special relativity, was plagued by finding a mathematical expression that would unite all four forces of nature— it is essentially trying to marry general relativity with quantum mechanics. Recently, new documents were discovered that might highlight Einstein’s obsession with the “theory of everything”.
New Einstein Documents Discovered
Earlier this month, Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, the place where Einstein had willed all of his writings to upon his death, broke the news. A massive collection of over 100 documents detailing a ton of Einstein’s mathematical processes during the late 1940s, as well as multiple personal writings (such as letters to relatives), were about to see the light of day for the first time. Released in part to celebrate what would be Einstein’s birthday, the university has put these documents up on display as well as published them officially. The most important thing about this huge collection of documents isn’t the fact that he expressed concerns of the Nazi party starting another war. Believe it or not, it’s the one document that serves as the final piece of the puzzle. This document that had been missing for ages, but it outlines the frustration surrounding a mathematical unification for the fundamental forces of nature.
So, what does the document reveal about Einstein’s progress? There’s still much to be analyzed, but essentially, it’s the final piece of the appendix thought to be completely lost. It hasn’t been looked at since 1930, and now that we’ve got the chance to examine it again, we’ve been able to draw the same conclusion that we had before: Einstein was stumped. The four fundamental forces of nature are gravity, electromagnetism, strong force, and weak force. What Einstein was trying to do, in essence, is figure out a mathematical way to unite all of these forces into one. If that makes your brain hurt, don’t worry. It did the exact same thing for Einstein. As much as we’d like for this document to be the “holy moly, he actually did it” paper, it’s just more math he was doing in an attempt to get the set of equations that would govern the entire universe. Had he actually cracked that code, however, we as a species would probably be in a very different place.
So Close, Yet So Far
Now, as underwhelming as that news is, you have to understand that trying to unify what is quite literally the entire universe into a set of equations is not a problem easily solved. Einstein was a genius even by today’s standards, and he couldn’t even figure it out. Today, we use what’s known as the standard model of particle physics, which includes the four forces of nature independent of one another.
There have been attempts to finish what Einstein started, but so far, we haven’t made much headway. We’ve come up with theories that unify strong and weak forces with electromagnetism (electroweak theory), but gravity never seems to want to cooperate. So, until we find a way to resurrect Isaac Newton and get him to work with Einstein’s computerized brain, we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy what little knowledge we have about the universe.