Unification of force and substance
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Maxwell’s mature presentation of his equations emphasized the unity of electromagnetism and mechanics, subsuming both as ‘dynamical systems’. That intuition of unity has proved both fruitful, as a source of pregnant concepts, and broadly inspiring. A deep aspect of Maxwell’s work is its use of redundant potentials, and the associated requirement of gauge symmetry. Those concepts have become central to our present understanding of fundamental physics, but they can appear to be rather formal and esoteric. Here I discuss two things: the physical significance of gauge invariance, in broad terms; and some tantalizing prospects for further unification, building on that concept, that are visible on the horizon today. If those prospects are realized, Maxwell’s vision of the unity of field and substance will be brought to a new level.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Physics
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
Royal Society, The
Wilczek, Frank. “Unification of Force and Substance.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 374, no. 2075 (July 2016): 20150257.