The TOE that Maxwell missed

If you’ve ever read James Clerk Maxwell’s 1865 paper A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, you might have noticed his Note on the Attraction of Gravitation. It’s at the end of part IV. Maxwell ends up saying energy is essentially positive, and that “the presence of dense bodies influences the medium so as to diminish this energy wherever there is a resultant attraction”. Then he said this: “As I am unable to understand in what way a medium can possess such properties, I cannot go…

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A grand unified history lesson

Like I was saying last time, a major goal of physics is “to unify the various fundamental forces” in a theory that offers “a more elegant understanding of the organization of the universe”. This is called a grand unified theory or GUT if it doesn’t include gravity, and a theory of everything or TOE if it does: Image from Sten Odenwald’s astronomy cafe Personally I don’t understand why anybody doesn’t include gravity. Gravity is easy. Einstein explained most of it in his 1920 Leyden Address. A…

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Grand Unified Theories

I was talking to a guy the other day about Grand Unified Theories, and I thought I ought to say something about them. The Wikipedia Grand Unified Theory article gives a fair account. It says a GUT is a model where “at high energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model that define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, or forces, are merged into a single force”. You’ve doubtless seen the picture: Image from the particle adventure That’s from the particle adventure website. They say this: “one of the major goals of particle physics…

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