Inaccessible dimensions, infinite number of universes forever out of reach – our ambition to come up with a theory of everything could fall short

What if … Most of reality is hidden?

How can we find reality? (Image: Skizzomat)

“MY GOAL is simple,” Stephen Hawking once said. “It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” That, in a nutshell, is the scientific manifesto – ambitious, maybe, but at least in theory possible.

But what if it isn’t?

There’s no shortage of indications that there might be limits to how far we can penetrate with science. String theory, for example, regarded by many physicists as our best bet for a unified theory of reality, proposes between 10 and 26 space-time dimensions, many of them wrapped so up tightly as to be virtually inaccessible. That could slam the door on answering mysteries such as why gravity is so weak, or how mysterious dark energy is apparently accelerating our universe’s expansion.

The rebooted Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva …

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