“What we often refer to as the laws of physics are actually just consistent mathematical theories that seem to agree with certain aspects of nature,” theoretical physicist Sankar Das Sarma says in an article for the popular science magazine New Scientist.
“These laws of physics are meant to describe our overall reality, even as they evolve as our empirical knowledge of the universe improves.”
“Here’s the thing,” Sarma continues, “even though many scientists are proud of their role in uncovering these ultimate laws [of nature], I just don’t believe they exist.”
“As we learn more about nature, we can improve our descriptions of it, but it will never end,” he says. “It’s like peeling an endless onion: the more we peel, the more there is to peel.”
Referring to the concept of a multiverse or an infinite number of universes, Sarma wonders how people can be so proud, assuming that some of the laws that seem to govern our reality will work in every universe.
As a weighty argument, Sarma adds that even a theory as strong as quantum mechanics, which he describes as “a set of rules used to understand reality, not a fundamental law,” is still filled with countless mysteries and variables, so we can’t consider this so-called fundamental theory inviolable.
“It is hard to imagine that in a thousand years, physicists will still use quantum mechanics as a fundamental description of nature,” the scientist continues.
“By then, something else should have replaced quantum mechanics, just as quantum mechanics itself once replaced Newtonian [classical] mechanics.”
What this replacement might be, Sarma does not want to guess. But he still doesn’t see “a special reason why our description of how the physical universe works should suddenly peak at the beginning of the 21st century and get stuck in quantum mechanics forever.”
“That would be truly depressing,” the physicist concluded.