The idea itself sounds very fascinating at first. Practically, however, we might not be able to predict everything even if we have such a theory. But what really strikes Professor Hawking is that once we complete this quest, it would complete the jigsaw puzzle of physics. And then, we can move on to asking greater questions, from “how” we and the universe exist, to “why” we and the universe exist.
However, over time and countless realizations, my opinion about all this has swiftly changed. Even if I believe that such a complete theory of physics actually exists, we are certainly not anywhere close to discovering it yet.
The primary reason why I think so expresses concern about the very basic approach through which science works. Scientific theories can only be judged in retrospect, when better theories have been discovered (the “all swans are white” argument).
Philosophical criticism aside, I would like to elaborate upon a fundamental flaw in science. The scientific method is all about observation. A scientific hypothesis cannot be tested as a theory until an experiment is carried out. An experiment is an act of measurement. A measurement is done by an observer. Thus the role of the observer, the experimenter, the person who watches things go by and takes a note, is critical.
Strangely and ironically so, the quantum family of theories, which come closest to the ultimate, final theory of everything, place a ridiculously interesting amount of importance on the very act of measurement. It is the very act of measurement or observation in these theories which gives rise to reality.
The importance of the observer can be elegantly illustrated through Schrodinger’s cat paradox where the cat is both dead and alive at the same time, until the observer sees it.
There is a certain problem with coming up with the theory of everything. It has to be about everything. And as clearly indicated by the latest set of theories, we have long ignored the importance of a certain missing pieces of the puzzle. To illustrate my point, here are the three disciplines which I will talk about: