• Arpan Dey

Consciousness And The Theory Of Everything

Updated: Apr 27

A theory of everything. We all know what that is. A theory that would explain all possible interactions in Nature. Our universe is dynamic, and everything in it is changing. As you may know, force causes this change. Force can change the state of motion, direction and configuration of an object. There are many different forces, but often many forces are just different forms of the same fundamental force. Over the years, physicists have come to the conclusion that there are four fundamental forces. One, the gravitational force. Second, the electromagnetic force. Third, the weak nuclear force and finally, the strong nuclear force. These forces can pretty much explain every interaction that can possibly take place in our universe. Just think about it. All the possible interactions. Physicists today are trying to unify these four forces into a single theoretical framework. Then, in a single theoretical framework, we could explain all the interactions that can take place in this universe. Such a theory deserves to be called a theory of everything.

Perhaps the best example of unification in physics is the unification of electricity and magnetism by James Maxwell. Electricity and magnetism were understood to be different phenomena, initially. There are electric fields and magnetic fields. A charge in rest produces an electric field, and a charge in motion produces a magnetic field. Electric field lines point away from positive charges and toward negative charges. A positive or a negative charge can exist independently, and so electric field lines can emerge out of a positive charge and spread till infinity. But in magnetism, we see that magnetic monopoles can't exist. If there is a north pole, there must be a south pole. Or in other words, a north pole can't exist independently from a south pole. Magnetic lines of force travel from the north to the south pole outside the magnet. Since monopoles can't exist, we see that the number of magnetic field lines entering a region must be equal to the number of field lines leaving that region. As there are no magnetic charges from which magnetic field lines emanate or at which magnetic field lines terminate, any magnetic field line entering must exit through the surface. Next, Michael Faraday discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction. Just like a moving charge can produce a magnetic field, changing magnetic flux can produce electric current. This principle is used in generators, for instance. What Maxwell did was describe all of electromagnetism in four equations. These were not his own equations, but he did modify Ampere's law. Maxwell also found that electric fields and magnetic fields can 'reinforce' each other and propagate as an electromagnetic wave even in vacuum. He also found that the speed of the electromagnetic wave is equal to the speed of light, and from this he concluded that light is an electromagnetic wave. Then it was well established that light has a wave nature. In Newton's day, light was thought to be made of a stream of 'corpuscles.' But to explain phenomena like interference, diffraction etc., it was proposed that light has a wave nature.

Now, let us discuss gravity. Gravity here is the odd one out, because all the other forces can be explained in terms of exchange of certain fundamental particles. But we haven’t yet discovered such a particle for gravity. Today, most physicists see gravity as a force arising out of the curvature of spacetime. Albert Einstein, in his theory of relativity, proposed that matter and energy are basically the same thing, and so are space and time. The presence of matter/energy can curve the spacetime around it. And this curvature of spacetime affects the movement of the bodies present around. So in this view, two bodies are not exactly pulling each other. They are moving toward each other due to the curvature of spacetime. There is no particle exchange involved. However, recent discoveries, like gravitational waves from two colliding black holes, hint at the existence of gravitons. There are some problems with gravitons, like the fact that they are not renormalizable. Also, it is possible that the graviton may exist in a higher dimension.

It should be noted that although general relativity has survived many stringent experimental tests, it breaks down inside a black hole or at the Big Bang. This only shows that general relativity is not a complete theory, and there is a deeper, all-encompassing theory which would account for dark matter, dark energy (etc.) naturally, unlike general relativity. Quoting Celia Escamilla-Rivera from this Quanta Magazine article, "The problem is that general relativity is not general enough. If you want to explain dark energy, this invisible energy that seems to be accelerating the universe’s expansion, you need an extra component in the equation, called the cosmological constant. This extra component doesn’t exist naturally in general relativity; you need to add it by hand." Please keep in mind that dark matter and dark energy are simply terms we have coined to phenomena which cannot be explained at present. It is surely possible that we will discover some deeper theory in the future which would explain these phenomena, or shed light on what problems with our current theories have given rise to the misconception of the existence of these phenomena.

When Einstein was busy fighting his battle in the thickets of spacetime, other physicists were developing a new and revolutionary theory: quantum mechanics. (It should be noted that Einstein himself also played an important role in the development of quantum mechanics, although he later refused to accept quantum mechanics as a complete theory.) Quantum theory was born when Max Planck showed that energy can't be radiated constantly, but in discrete packets called quanta. This was an essential step in resolving the ultraviolet catastrophe. Planck showed that the energy is directly proportional to the frequency, and thus is equal to a constant multiplied with the frequency. This constant is what we call Planck's constant. It was Einstein's insight that to explain the photoelectric effect, we must think of light as a stream of discrete quanta, called photons. Einstein reintroduced the particle nature of light, and it was necessary. Today, we say that light has dual nature: the wave theory explains some phenomena while you need the particle theory for some other phenomena. Then we had Louis de Broglie's great idea that just like light (supposed to be a wave) has dual nature (particle nature in addition to wave nature), matter (supposed to be of particle nature) has a wave nature too. This has been verified by studying the diffraction of electron, and has wide ranging applications, like the electron microscope. The electron was thought of as a point-like particle. Then quantum theory proved that electron, and in fact everything else, has a wave nature too. Werner Heisenberg showed that it was impossible to determine both the position and momentum of a particle simultaneously. There is a certain amount of uncertainty in Nature deep down. Then came Schrödinger's equation. There was the interpretation of the wave function as a function the square of which gives the probability of finding the particle in the given region. Only on observing the particle (don't get me started on consciousness here), does the wave function 'collapse' to a distinct 'value,' and we observe the particle in a distinct location. Before observation, the particle has a non-zero probability of existing everywhere, even in distant galaxies. (Here I'm referring to the quantum measurement problem, and there are a lot of philosophical difficulties here, but we'll discuss that in another blog.) And, roughly speaking, Nature tries out all possibilities, so if we wait long enough, we can observe the effect of quantum tunneling: the particle can instantaneously disappear from here and appear in a distant location. Tunneling has been observed already. But don't expect we will be walking through walls any time soon! Anyway, quantum mechanics disproved all common sense notions about reality. In this new world, a particle can simultaneously pass through two slits, you have a certain probability of tunneling to a distant galaxy (although not in your lifetime, such extremely rare events will occur after a long, really long time) and you get the idea. There is a certain amount of randomness in Nature. We can't know everything precisely. Everything is reduced to probability. Some physicists accepted this revolution, while others were not so happy about this. But quantum mechanics has been repeatedly verified experimentally.

Now, we all know what a charge is. It is an intrinsic property of some particles, and the electron carries the smallest amount of charge that can exist independently. The electron carries a charge which is in nature very different from the charge carried by protons. There are two types of charges, positive and negative and unlike charges attract one another while like charges repel one another. This attraction and repulsion fall under the electromagnetic interaction. This attraction holds the nucleus and electrons in an atom together. The strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces operate on a much smaller scale and hold the nucleus of the atom together. These three forces are all caused by the exchange of fundamental particles called bosons. In fact, there are two types of fundamental particles. Bosons, which give rise to forces, and fermions, which make up the matter. At this point, it should be noted that the unification of just these three forces was not easy. After Einstein published his geometrical theory of gravity, he, along with many other scientists, started looking for a geometric interpretation of electromagnetism. The weak nuclear and strong nuclear forces were not known at that point. It was soon discovered, by Theodor Kaluza, that the existence of an extra, hidden dimension can account for electromagnetism in a world which is consistent with Einstein's general relativity. In other words, Kaluza, as Lee Smolin writes in The Trouble With Physics, "applied Einstein's general theory of relativity to a five-dimensional world and found electromagnetism." Oskar Klein further developed the theory and, as Smolin writes, "gravity and electromagnetism [were] unified in one blow, and Maxwell's equations are explained as coming out of Einstein's equations, all by the simple act of adding a single dimension to space." The weak and strong nuclear force can also be, in some sense, unified with gravity and electromagnetism by adding even more dimensions. But why don't we see these dimensions? The initial response was that these dimensions were curled up to very small lengths and to make these theories work, you also have to 'freeze' the geometry of the extra dimensions. Plus, such solutions are unstable. Plus there were a lot of possible unified theories, and it was difficult to choose one out of them. As Smolin writes, "Over and over again in the early attempts at unifying physics through extra dimensions, we encounter the same story. There are a few solutions that lead to the world we observe, but these are unstable islands in a vast landscape of possible solutions, the rest of which are very unlike our world." Fundamentally, we can ask why some particular solutions are fulfilled while others are not, and we can also say that in some parallel universe, Nature has followed the alternate solutions. But let's not get into that here.

Before we move forward, it should be noted that there has been no significant breakthrough in physics since the discovery and verification of the Standard Model. This is due to the five great problems with theoretical physics. Yes, there are, as Lee Smolin writes in his book The Trouble With Physics, five major problems in theoretical physics. First, the unification of the four forces and second, the reconciliation of general relativity and quantum mechanics. These two problems are perhaps interdependent: to solve one we need to solve the other. Next, the third problem is about the Standard Model. Although most of us believe it to be the most successful theory there is, it has a lot of constants with values we don't know the origin of. We can experimentally find the values, but we don't know why these constants have to take on those particular values. Plus we need to explain the mass of neutrinos and a lot of other things. The fourth problem is about dark matter and dark energy. We know very little about them, and they were postulated simply to explain away some crazy cosmological observations which couldn't be explained by our current theories. The last problem is, according to me, the most important problem in all of science. Making sense of quantum mechanics. The quantum measurement problem. The problem of consciousness. I have indirectly reflected on this problem in a previous blog. Did we just accidentally come to this world, which would exist even if we didn't? Or is consciousness something fundamental, and the very existence of reality depends on consciousness? You must keep in mind that a theory of everything must answer each of these questions.

Before we proceed further, a word on consciousness. All our present science does is explain the workings of the inanimate world from a third person perspective. But we don't really know how our consciousness gives rise to the perception of this beautiful world, or how consciousness emerged in this world (if it is at all emergent and nothing more fundamental, which I doubt). If, by science, you mean just explaining how the inanimate world works, you are leaving out important bits of the story. It may be true that we are limited by our consciousness and there is the saying that if the brain was simple enough to be understood we wouldn't be smart enough to understand it. But we need to understand consciousness. We need to expand the scope of science. Some people will say it is pseudoscience, metaphysics and useless really. But no, we have to break out of this materialistic view of science. Anyway, back to our main discussion now.

The best candidate we have for a theory of everything is, perhaps, string theory. If string theory turns out to be correct, then the correct question about the final theory should be asked not in terms of forces or fields or particles, but in terms of strings. String theory proposes that one dimensional ‘strings,’ the different modes of vibrations on which correspond to the different particles, are the most fundamental building blocks of the universe, and no particle is any more fundamental than any other particle. In string theory, forces arise from the joining and breaking of strings. All forces and particles can be explained by assuming strings propagate in a fixed background in such a way so as to minimize the area taken up. String theory basically replaces the idea of zero dimensional point particles with the idea of a one dimensional string of energy. Interestingly, string theory was initially developed as a theory of the strong nuclear interaction. But then it was discovered that string theory includes all the three forces plus gravity. The latter, as a requirement, must be included for the theory to work. Gravitons, according to string theory, arise from the vibrations of only closed strings. This suggested that instead of just describing the strong nuclear interaction, string theory is in fact the theory that unifies all the four forces of Nature. There were problems, however. Some string theories predicted the existence of faster-than-light particles called tachyons which rendered the theories unstable. Okay, tachyons can be eliminated by using supersymmetry. But string theory requires twenty-five spatial dimensions and one time dimension to work. (At this point, it would be interesting to consider the arrow of time, and ponder whether string theory allows for more than one time dimension, or whether time can after all be treated as just another spatial dimension.) After supersymmetry was incorporated into string theory, we could reduce the number of required dimensions to ten (nine spatial dimensions). The initial explanation was that these dimensions are curled up to such small lengths that they are not perceivable. But, as Smolin writes in The Trouble With Physics, "This gave rise to great opportunities, and great problems... earlier attempts to use higher dimensions to unify physics have failed, because there were too many solutions... It also led to problems of instabilities, because there are processes by which the geometry of the extra dimensions unravels and becomes large and other processes whereby it collapses to a singularity." More problems remained, and new problems came up as string theory developed. There was still excitement, for it was proved that string theory is finite and consistent. All the previous quantum gravity theories were not finite and consistent. String theory promised to be a ray of hope. String theory is beautiful and elegant. But we must also remember that beautiful theories have failed before. And then it was discovered that string theory is not a unique theory. Five different versions of superstring theory were discovered. The hope was that all these theories are different manifestations of some deeper, underlying theory. Before we go further, there is one more problem with string theory. And this, I believe, is why string theory, in its current form, simply can't be a final theory. String theory is background dependent. We describe strings moving in a fixed background, in fixed space and time. But general relativity is background independent. And as far as we know, a final theory must also be background independent. Background independence requires that, quoting from Wikipedia, "the defining equations of a theory to be independent of the actual shape of the spacetime and the value of various fields within the spacetime. In particular this means that it must be possible not to refer to a specific coordinate system - the theory must be coordinate free. In addition, the different spacetime configurations (or backgrounds) should be obtained as different solutions of the underlying equations." The background evolves, and is not fixed. And this should be the case with a fundamental theory. The background must be derivable from first principles, and not be fixed. As is explained in the Wikipedia article, we must not increase the number of inputs the theory needs to make its predictions. Well, string theorists assume the background to be almost fixed with small disturbances, and use perturbation techniques to account for these disturbances. And there is also some hope that the different background dependent versions of string theory are emergent from a deeper, background independent theory.

In an interview I took of the renowned physicist Edward Witten, he said, "Spacetime, gravity, and everything we see are in some sense emergent from a much deeper structure." There are alternatives to string theory. The best alternative being loop quantum gravity which attempts to apply the principles of quantum mechanics to gravity. General relativity, as we know, describes gravity as a consequence of the curved geometry of spacetime. Loop quantum gravity, however, suggests that space itself is discrete, quantized and granular (not continuous). Loop quantum gravity assumes that space is emergent from discrete building blocks. Loop quantum gravity makes some testable predictions, and may also be a successful, finite and consistent theory of quantum gravity. And loop quantum gravity is background independent as well. Some string theorists are, interestingly, trying to apply the methods of loop quantum gravity to string theory, and, as this Quanta Magazine article explains, loop quantum gravity and string theory may be different sides of the same coin.

Anyway, the problem with string theory is that there is no concrete experimental support for it. String theory has made no unique and viable prediction. The predictions of string theory, if proved to be true, will not conclusively prove that string theory is true. And even if these predictions are false, string theory might still be true. So far, there have been no exciting findings regarding cosmic strings or extra forces or if you believe in the supersymmetric string theory, superpartners. In conclusion, it can be said that physics may take an unexpected turn any moment now (for instance, the muon g-2 experiment points at the existence of new particles and makes us think twice about the Standard Model, which is supposed to be perhaps the most successful theory, and although the Standard Model can be modified to account for the mass of the neutrino, there are other problems with the Standard Model), and it is really difficult to predict whether we are actually close to finding a theory of everything, because future discoveries can make the task more complicated than it seems now. As of now, we have some really good insights like the AdS/CFT correspondence, which likely will take us a long way toward a theory of everything. The journey so far has been incredible, and is bound to be more so in the future. Coming to the Standard Model, it is mainly based on two principles: gauge principles (which has unified all the three forces except gravity) and spontaneous symmetry breaking (which explains the difference between these forces). It may be the case that initially there was a single force, which due to spontaneous symmetry breaking gave rise to three different forces. Breaking of symmetry (which introduces differences in the system) is essential for stability. Water is, by itself, symmetric (there is no particular asymmetry in it, it just assumes the shape of its container). Now cool it. You get ice, which is not perfectly symmetric. (Ice assumes the shape of its container as well, but in general, the formation of ice doesn't follow any symmetry.) We know that hotter things have more energy, and are less stable. Everything wants to lose energy and gain stability. For that, it needs to cool down, and break symmetry in the process. Symmetry only exists at high energies. And this is a very fundamental idea. But I am not going into this here. I have left out important bits of the story, like the Higgs field which is responsible for spontaneous symmetry breaking, SU(5) symmetry and proton decay. But let's keep it for another day.

The question that has been bothering me lately concerns consciousness, emergence and reductionism. Quoting from this Quanta Magazine article, "Reductionism breaks the world into elementary building blocks. Emergence finds the simple laws that arise out of complexity. These two complementary ways of viewing the universe come together in modern theories of quantum gravity." According to reductionists, everything can be explained by breaking them into smaller and smaller pieces. Of course, this is wrong. I recently completed University of California, Irvine's Emergent Phenomena course on Coursera. I learned that there are loads of phenomena in Nature which simply can't be explained from the reductionist's point of view. We need emergence for that. Zoom in, reductionism wins; zoom out, emergence wins. When many simple parts are interacting in a complex manner, emergence simply refers to the emergence of new properties of the system as a whole, which can't be explained by studying the individual parts, or which do not arise from the properties of the individual parts.

What is consciousness? An honest answer would be: "We don't know." Some people will say consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, which is emergent from neuronal interactions in the brain. But consciousness, very likely, is not an accident of combination, and human consciousness does not simply emerge from complex interactions in the brain, there is more to consciousness. (It would perhaps be better to say that human consciousness manifests through complex interactions in the brain, rather than emerges from the same.) Quoting from the Galileo Commission Report, "All emergent properties we know of in Nature are emergent properties of the same categorical kind. For instance, water arises out of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule and displays emergent properties that neither hydrogen nor oxygen have and that cannot be predicted by the single constituents. It freezes at zero degrees Celsius temperature and is liquid above. It has a phase transition again at 100 degrees Celsius, when it turns into a gas. It has its highest density at 4 degrees Celsius, which allows water to freeze from the top and the fish to breathe and survive in a frozen lake. And it even has a fourth phase, namely a quasi-crystalline state which is highly ordered, like a crystal, yet fluid like a liquid, whenever it is in contact with hydrophilic surfaces under infrared radiation conditions, as in living systems. This explains a lot of properties of living systems. But none of this can be seen in hydrogen or oxygen, let alone derived from the single constituents’ properties. So, obviously, there can be very complex new properties which emerge out of simpler constituents in their specific systemic combination. And even more complex examples can be introduced, such as complex electronic devices like computers that produce, out of a certain arrangement of simple binary elements, highly complex activities such as calculation operations that allow even more complex activities like controlling the behaviour of cars, aeroplanes and other technical devices. So, quite obviously, we see complex behaviour emerging out of the intelligent arrangement of simpler constituents all the time. And these more complex properties of systems are in no way predictable by looking at the constituents. Taking a TV set apart or a computer and looking at all the parts will never tell us what the end product was capable of doing, nor will looking at hydrogen or oxygen tell us what kind of properties water will have and what will result of water’s properties in combination with still other things like hydrophilic border areas. While this is all true and impressive, it is important to note that in all examples we know of, we see emergence always on the same conceptual or categorical level. The properties of water are still material properties, like the four phases, or the capacity to be subject to electrical or osmotic forces. The properties of TV sets and computers are still material, namely to relay and receive electromagnetic radiation, photons, properly speaking, and convert them into meaningful signals. And here another categorical plane comes into play: meaning. Those signals and their results are only meaningful for a conscious observer and agent. And they have been made meaningful by a conscious inventor and engineer, otherwise they would not be there. All emergent properties we know in nature, such as the fluidity of water, the light producing property of certain algae and bacteria, the light converting properties of photosynthesis, the light producing properties of strong electrical discharge in lightning, or metabolism and movement as consequence of organisation in higher organisms, all these properties remain properties at the same conceptual level. They are still material, physical in nature. One can of course claim that there was at least one phase transition or emergence that was across a categorical border, namely the origin of our universe, where matter emerged sponaneously out of an incredibly dense energy, which itself emerged out of, well, immaterial informational blueprints. But following this argument through reveals: at the bottom of matter is actually information, a thoroughly non-material concept. So if there is any phase transcategorical transition and emergence into another ontological plane then it is one from information or consciousness-like reality into matter. Not exactly helpful in arguing that matter is basic, is it?... None of the emergent properties we know in nature lead to a categorically different thing, except the original emergence of matter from information-energy. Or put differently, emergence, as far as we know and understand it, never transcends categorical boundaries from matter to something else... natural emergence within complex systems, as far as we know them and have described them, does not switch planes, transporting the constituents into another level of being or into a different nature. But this is exactly what consciousness is. It is categorically different from all material systems we know. The inner, subjective phenomenal feel of what it is to be conscious does not occur in any material descriptions we know of our world or which we can create. Granted, one might say that perhaps in a very complex system such as the brain a new mode or order of emergence might happen, such that indeed an ontologically and categorically different level such as consciousness is reached. But this then is not an explanation but begging the question, or an overstretching of the notion of emergence. For it says, in essence, that we define consciousness as a new, categorically and ontologically different emergent property of a complex neural system. This is a postulate or definition, but not an explanation. It may in fact be so, but then we should be aware that we are not using known examples of emergence to reduce consciousness to an exemplar of such known types of emergence, but we are postulating a hitherto unknown type of emergence and are postulating that consciousness belongs to that type. This is, argument-wise, the same thing as Descartes did when he postulated a second type of substance, because its properties were not in alignment with the definition of material substance. This is possible, but it is neither an explanation nor does it help. However, empirical arguments and data speak against such a concept of emergence..." There are alternate models of consciousness, although these models are still developing. According to the summary of argument of the Report, "An increasing number of open-minded scientists are already researching these frontier areas using existing scientific methods, and are reaching empirically grounded conclusions that challenge the mainstream majority view... They therefore argue that we need a model of consciousness that is non-reductive and allows consciousness its own ontological status.... a dual aspect or complementarity model, in which matter and mind, consciousness and its physical substrate, are two aspects of reality that are irreducible and simultaneously occurring perspectives of an underlying reality to which we otherwise have no direct access."

Consciousness is a fundamental phenomenon. (As Schrödinger says, "Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.") And the human consciousness is linked to this fundamental consciousness in some way. This is likely to be true because this explains a lot of parapsychological phenomena like non local perception. (I will not go into whether these phenomena are true or not, but evidence says yes, they are true, and what we treat as pseudoscience today will likely be a part of science tomorrow.) If you are interested in exploring consciousness, I highly encourage you to read the Galileo Commission Report. The report discusses consciousness, NDEs (Near Death Experiences), parapsychology (etc.), phenomena slowly coming into science with the mounting evidence pointing at their existence. I believe we are moving toward a more unified and expanded science.

We have so far kept consciousness outside mainstream science. As I have already said, our science describes the world from a third person perspective. We know how inanimate objects work and everything, but most scientists ignore the fact that it is through our consciousness that we perceive everything. In Mind And Matter, Schrödinger writes, “The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence. Its becoming manifest is conditional on very special goings-on in very special parts of this very world, namely on certain events that happen in a brain. That is an inordinately peculiar kind of implication, which prompts the question: What particular properties distinguish these brain processes and enable them to produce the manifestation? Can we guess which material processes have this power, which not? Or simpler: What kind of material process is directly associated with consciousness?”

It is all very well to say that consciousness emerges from the brain. Only that the brain is not the seat of consciousness. Science must learn to look beyond the brain. Evidence shows that consciousness in near-death experiences persists even in absence of brain activity. This shows that consciousness and the brain are not interdependent, not to a very great extent. As stated above, consciousness (more specifically, human consciousness) manifests through the brain, but does not, it is very likely, emerges from the brain. Consciousness can be thought of as a more fundamental and all-encompassing phenomenon of our universe (quoting Sir James Jeans, "the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine"), rather than just an accident of combination, or in other words, a consequence of complex arrangement of matter. (Indeed, latest consciousness research actually suggests that consciousness is a fundamental phenomenon, and calling it as emergent from matter robs it of its fundamentality. Indeed, I am no more afraid of dying, because, very likely, it doesn't all end with death.) There may also exist many levels of consciousness, and interactions between these levels can explain ESP (extra sensory perception), phenomena like telepathy, precognition etc.. Hitherto we have treated such phenomena as unreal and pseudoscientific, but the mounting evidence says otherwise. Parapsychology is indeed an emerging science, and I believe we will have to accept the existence of parapsychological phenomena gradually. Bell's non locality and quantum entanglement may also prove to be a great help in explaining parapsychological phenomena. The possibilities are endless. All we need to do is to remain bold enough to explore them.

Roger Penrose, and a lot of other scientists, believes that a theory of everything will somehow incorporate consciousness into its framework. As all the evidence suggests that consciousness is not derivative from matter, but is a fundamental aspect of reality, and as physics is the study of fundamental phenomena, it is no surprise why people should think there might be a link between the two. And I believe it's true. There is a link and a theory of everything will have to explain consciousness.

In the end, I would like to say that some people believe that once we find a theory of everything, physics would come to an end. Of course not. We have just started unravelling the mysteries of the universe, and there are more surprises in store for us. If you would ask me whether I believe we are going to find the theory of everything, I would say maybe yes, in the course of time. String theory and loop quantum gravity are promising approaches, and eventually I believe we would either discover the final theory or discover the incompleteness of our current understanding of the world. We will definitely discover something. I have this gut feeling that near-future discoveries in physics will be changing the way we see the world. A final theory is definitely possible, but we don’t understand the problems well enough yet, so it is not possible to comment on how far away the solution is.

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