Magnets, boiling kettles and the secret code underlying reality
So what, you might say, as long as we can still make a decent cup of tea. But dive a little deeper into how water boils, and a pattern begins to emerge – the same pattern that crops up in all sorts of places where matter starts to shift shape. Whether it’s the collective properties of electrons that make a material magnetic or superconducting, or the complex interactions by which everyday matter acquires mass, a host of currently intractable problems might all follow the same mathematical rules. Cracking this code could help us on the way to everything from more efficient transport and electronics to a new, shinier, quantum theory of gravity.
Simmons-Duffin, who works at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, and his band of fellow researchers don’t claim to have cracked this code yet. But they have made more headway in a few years than people did in the generation before – using a key in a problem that first surfaced almost a century ago.
Physicists like simplicity. Their discipline is all about keenly observing the world and drawing out unifying mathematical rules that govern its workings. Take orbiting planets. First Johannes Kepler meticulously sifted through the available data to establish three mathematical rules that governed their motions. Then Isaac Newton showed that those three rules were just facets of
1 Corinthians 15:46