The Theory of American Everything Part 1: A Scientific Lesson

Life is guided by a set of rules, laws, processes, norms, and various theories. Entropy, general relativity, Newton’s laws of motion, gravity, magnetism, photosynthesis, apoptosis, string theory, uncertainty principle, quantum mechanics. These rules of science explain how our universe works: from the tiniest molecules inside our bodies to supernovas in the furthest reaches of space. Yet these laws and theories are far from complete. Even the greatest minds of history, from Plato to Galileo to Curie, they were imperfect people working with limited understanding. As we study and learn more about the workings of chemistry and physics, scientists have disproved, revised, and expanded old concepts. Even Einstein’s memorable equation of E = mc squared has its limits. It’s generally true but it’s not exactly correct either; modern science looks at Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence in a “yes, but” manner. 

Scientists examine and experiment with all of these laws to test their veracity. The majority accepts them as a basis for their understanding. They trust in the validity of these scientific norms yet believe it’s not enough. There’s gotta be something more. Something that explains everything. Some of these scientists collaborated on an idea: a hypothesis of one overarching law explaining all known laws of science into one unified formula. They call it the theory of everything. 

In the theory of everything, scientists are hopeful to connect the disconnected rules of everything from thermodynamics to quantum biology to astrophysics. They’re looking for answers to unsolved scientific problems, define the singularity at the beginning of time, explain the exceptions to known scientific standards, and fix the flaws in existing theories. If proven, the theory of everything could provide a framework that ties electromagnetism and nuclear forces to particle physics and the entirety of the space time continuum. Depending on how much credence you give to the theory of everything, it could be the next big scientific breakthrough proving the possibility of elements once confined to the imagination of science fiction: dark matter, time travel, teleportation, and interstellar exploration. 

Scientists look into both microscopes and telescopes to answer the same question: why we are the way we are. When I study history, theology, politics, and pop culture, I find myself asking the same question. Why are we the way we are? 

What makes America America? How can we be so functionally dysfunctional? How can anything be so awesome and awful at the same time? How do capitalists and anarchists coexist? Is it possible for our socialists and our libertarians to get along for the sake of our general welfare? Why do we possess the cognitive dissonance believing it’s patriotic to call Obama an illegitimate president but treason to say the same thing of Trump? Why is this nation of invention and innovation also a land of religious cults and serial killers? How do we have the greatest military force of any nation on earth and still think it’s too weak? Why is the quality of our health care going down while the cost is going up? Do we need to make America great again? Or just make America great? How did we get so divided and polarized? Where is the balance between American exceptionalism and American idiot? 

If scientists can strive to find a unified theory of everything in our universe, we should be able to find a singular theory to explain everything about America. We need something that explains both California vibes and southern charm, amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A, bowling alleys and sandlots, comic books and gospel tracts, Fried Green Tomatoes and Boyz n the hood, Dueling Banjos and Smells Like Teen Spirit. What is the theory of American everything? 

I think I’ve figured it out – the reason America is the way it is and why we are the way we are. It's all about they way we began.

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