Problems with our current understanding of how nature works

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Smolin (2006) poses five key unsolved problems in physics set out below.


Problem 1. The problem of quantum gravity

Combine general relativity and quantum theory into a single theory that can claim to be the complete theory of nature.


Problem 2. The foundational problem of quantum mechanics

Resolve the problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, either by making sense of the theory as it stands or by inventing a new theory that does make sense.


Problem 3. Unification of particles and forces

Determine whether or not the various particles and forces can be unified in a theory that explains them all as manifestations of a single fundamental entity.


Problem 4. Explain the values of the free constants in the Standard Model

Explain why the value of the free constants in the Standard Model of fundamental particle physics take their observed values.


Problem 5. Explain dark matter and dark energy

Or if they don't exist, explain how and why gravity is modified on large scales.





Smolin, L. (2006). The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next. Allen Lane (an imprint of Penguin Books)


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