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SUPPOSE we had a theory that could explain everything. Not just atoms and quarks but aspects of our everyday lives too. Sound impossible? Perhaps not.
It's all part of the recent explosion of work in an area of physics known as random matrix theory. Originally developed more than 50 years ago to describe the energy levels of atomic nuclei, the theory is turning up in everything from inflation rates to the behaviour of solids. So much so that many researchers believe that it points to some kind
researchers believe that it points to some kind of deep pattern in nature that we don't yet understand. "It really does feel like the ideas of random matrix theory are somehow buried deep in the heart of nature,"
Quantum theory tells us that atomic nuclei have many discrete energy levels, like unevenly spaced rungs on a ladder. To calculate the spacing between each of the rungs, you would need to know the myriad possible ways the nucleus can hop from one to another, and the probabilities for those events to happen. Wigner didn't know, so instead he picked numbers at random for the probabilities and arranged them in a square array called a matrix.
What is most remarkable, though, is how Wigner's idea has been used since then. It can be applied to a host of problems involving many interlinked variables whose connections can be represented as a random matrix.
In a paper from 2006, for example, he showed how random matrix theory applies very naturally to the mathematics of certain games of solitaire, to the way buses clump together in cities, and the path traced by molecules bouncing around in a gas, among others. The most important question, perhaps, is whether there is some deep theory behind both physics and mathematics that explains why random matrices seem to capture essential truths about reality. "There must be some reason, but we don't yet know what it is," admits Nadakuditi. In the meantime, random matrix theory is already changing how we look at random systems and try to understand their behaviour. It may possibly offer a new tool, for example, in detecting small changes in global climate
The other in my view is to look at everything as waves including consiciousness.