A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

by

Stephen Hawking

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Unified theory of physics Term Analysis

Stephen Hawking’s life’s work was to find the unified theory of physics, which would successfully integrate quantum mechanics with the theory of relativity. Many have joined him on this quest, but so far scientists have failed to find the one rule to unlock the remaining mysteries of the universe. Hawking stated this theory must incorporate the sum over histories and uncertainty principles. Once this theory is found, everyone will be able to discuss the great existential questions, such as why we are here, and once those are answered, we will know the mind of God.

Unified theory of physics Quotes in A Brief History of Time

The A Brief History of Time quotes below are all either spoken by Unified theory of physics or refer to Unified theory of physics. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of A Brief History of Time published in 1988.
Chapter 4 Quotes

The success of scientific theories […] led the French scientist the Marquis de Laplace […] to argue that the universe was completely deterministic. Laplace suggested that there should be a set of scientific laws that would allow us to predict everything that would happen in the universe.

Related Characters: Werner Heisenberg, Marquis de Laplace
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

We now know that neither the atoms nor the protons and neutrons within them are indivisible. So the question is: what are the truly elementary particles, the basic building blocks from which everything is made?

Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner […] they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired. […] There ought to be some principle that picks out […] one model, to represent our universe.

Related Characters: God
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

Must we turn to the anthropic principle for an explanation? Was it all just a lucky chance? That would seem a counsel of despair, a negation of all our hopes of understanding the underlying order of the universe.

Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

We don’t yet have a complete and consistent theory that combines quantum mechanics and gravity. However, we are fairly certain of some features that such a unified theory should have.

Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

The progress of the human race in understanding the universe has established a small corner of order in an increasingly disordered universe.

Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

A complete, consistent, unified theory is only the first step: our goal is a complete understanding of the events around us, and of our own existence.

Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? […] Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?

Related Characters: God
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] if we do discover a complete theory […] Then we shall all […] be able to [discuss] why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.

Related Characters: God , Lay People
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Unified theory of physics Term Timeline in A Brief History of Time

The timeline below shows where the term Unified theory of physics appears in A Brief History of Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Science’s ultimate goal is to offer one theory for the entire universe—a theory of everything . But usually scientists deal with it in one of two ways. First, they apply... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...but rather is governed by laws, all the partial theories must fit into one overarching theory of everything . But there is a fundamental contradiction in that search. We’ve assumed so far that... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...have indicated a survival advantage. Today, our discoveries could well kill us all. Also, a unified theory might not affect our likelihood of survival. But, given the regular evolution of the universe,... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...quantum mechanics, which eventually gave us nuclear power and microelectronics. Thus, the search for a theory of everything might not help us survive, or ever change our lives all that much, but it... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...of certain particles, as scientists cannot predict them yet. One day, there might be a unified theory for predicting these numbers, which seem perfectly calibrated for supporting life. Alternatively, perhaps life formed... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...down to free will, which is a debatable concept itself if there really is a unifying theory . Such a theory could well determine human behavior, negating the idea of free will. (full context)
Chapter 11
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...different aspects of science. But in the end, it would be good to have a unified theory that covers everything, without having to make up certain numbers for certain aspects to make... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Einstein tried and failed to find a theory of everything , mainly because not enough was known about nuclear science at the time, but also... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Hawking suggests there might not be one single formula to the unifying theory , just as Gödel showed there was no one formula to arithmetic. Instead, it might... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
There are three possibilities: there is a unifying theory of physics; there are only partial theories, but they add up to explain everything; or... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...were around at the beginning of the universe, so studying that era could uncover a unifying theory within this lifetime. (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Even if the unifying theory was found, it would still only be a theory, and could later be disproven. But... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
If a complete theory is found, over time it is likely to be distilled in a way that everyone... (full context)