Not so long ago many scientists, and Stephen Hawking central among them, claimed a theory of everything was just round the corner. Far from being round the corner it now looks less and less likely. In 2010 Hawking changed his mind and abandoned the theory altogether arguing that all scientific theories were models and that we would never be able to arrive at a single account. we would never be able to determine in favour of a different account of science altogether, model theoretic realism.
Was Hawking right, and does the end of the theory of everything point to a bigger shift in our understanding of what science itself can achieve? Should we see science as always being from a particular perspective and not capable of ultimately describing reality at all, let alone being complete? Or is there a possible model that could be so effective that it can be deemed to be true?
Theoretical physicist Peter Woit, physicist Becky Parker and critic of realism Hilary Lawson test their theories of everything.