Mental Floss

Behold, a Map of the Theories of Everything

Caitlin Schneider
Screen Shot,
Screen Shot, / Screen Shot,

Understanding our quest for a unifying theory—even on an elemental level—would be impressive if there was at least one central concept around which the world of theoretical physics could rally. Instead, there are several theories, each with their own set of broad strokes, minutiae, and advanced thought.

To help wrap your head around the Big Questions of the universe, Quanta Magazine and interactive developer Emily Fuhrman have created a map of the “Theories of Everything.” It allows you to explore everything from dark energy to space-time to the Big Bang and beyond with a simple click on the rocket ship of your computer mouse.

The ideas are weighted in proportion to their importance in advancing the field. As such, the theory of quantum gravity (which aims to unify general relativity and quantum mechanics) has the most visual heft. Each question is presented with a set of solutions and those possible solutions are represented as a web of interlocking ideas.

You can navigate through the murky waters of fundamental physics, and even if none of it makes any sense, it's a beautiful way to wonder and wander in a universe of elegant mysteries.