Keinstein and Dreistein’s Non-Unified Theories

by on Saturday, 23 January 2010 Comments

There is no need to recall here the unceasing scientific rivalry that opposed Keinstein and Dreistein during their whole career till the time of their almost simultaneous death. It is also of public knowledge that this professional rivalry, joined to a deep and mutual personal dislike, stimulated the stamina and creativity displayed by both of them for so any years. And all observers agree that the rivalry was left unresolved, with none of them winning the match, or, more aptly, both of them winning it – though, till the end, Keinstein and Dreistein could not console themselves of not having taken a decisive advantage on their rival. When Keinstein announced a major discovery, another one followed that Dreistein could claim as his own. When Dreistein won the Nobel Prize for Physics, Keinstein reciprocated by claiming the same distinction in Chemistry the next year. Earlier in their career, they were jointly awarded the Fields Medal (for utterly different achievements), which annihilated the pleasure they could have felt at receiving such an honor. When one became MIT’s most revered scientist, the other was becoming Stanford’s acclaimed luminary. And so it went on, for fifty years…[/dropcap]

After they left this world, most of their colleagues used to avoid speaking of their latter years: the steep decline of an exceptional intellect is always a painful spectacle, and this is even truer when it comes to one of two towering figures of science seemingly lost in a battle, the stakes of which are understood only by them. But stakes there were, stakes that were giving a meaning – a frightening one – to the rivalry that had opposed them since their common youth in Mittel Europa. As he was slowly drowning into the innocuous insignificance usually attached to old age’s unchallenged glory, Keinstein claimed to have found the decisive proof that there was and could not be any unified theory of the universe. Around the same time, Dreistein was repeating that he was able to demonstrate that there were no less that three unified theories of the universe, that the three of them were true, and that they were mutually incompatible. Both claims could have been reconciled if Keinstein’s Ultimate Non-Unified Theory (UNUT) could have been counted as one of Dreistein’s Three Incompatible Unified Theories (TIUT), but both were adamant that UNUT was not and could not be a subdivision of TIUT. None of them never revealed the full extent of his reasoning, each one promising that the proof would be found among the papers he would leave to his disciples. The two competing schools did thoroughly examine what their respective masters had left behind them, without making much sense of the writings they could gather – while observing that these writings contained no obvious mistake or any other sign of senility. On the whole, the latter theories of Keinstein and Dreistein were seen more as a psychological drama than as a scientific duel.

However, the latest theoretical developments have given a new and unexpected meaning to the last episodes of Keinstein’s and Dreistein’s rivalry. Nobody could have predicted the intellectual earthquake triggered by Professor Uberstein’s “Theory that Goes Beyond Everything” (TGBE), which does seem to lead us towards a truth even more disturbing than were already the competing claims of Keinstein and Dreistein – namely, that both of them might have been right. According to Uberstein, the laws of the universe cannot be expressed in a unified theory and they can be gathered into three antagonistic sets of principles. This very fact (which of course remains utterly incomprehensible for our normal intellects) might also explain why Keinstein and Dreistein never revealed the full extent of their proofs: both might have inferred from their evidences that the other was detaining the other half of the truth they had so painstakingly searched for. Ultimately, there could be no winner between the two, and such painful revelation was better to be left to the care of future generations. What would have they made of the fact that Keinstein’s and Dreistein’s combined intellects would be so swiftly outsmarted by the miraculous surge of an Uberstein?

 

 

 
Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

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