GUTs are about unifying three of the four forces that physicists call fundamental. “Fundamental” means there are no others. "Fundamental" means that across the whole of the universe are no forces, powers or energies other than the fundamental four: electromagnetism, the weak force, the strong force, and gravity.
Every force is one of the four fundamentals or is based on one of the four. Centripetal and centrifugal forces, for example, are just gravity in the round. Nuclear energy is the strong force flexing its muscles. Radioactivity is the weak force at work.
Electricity and magnetism have been unified: they are different aspects of the same underlying force, electromagnetism.
Electromagnetism and the weak force have been unified into the electroweak. To put it less simply: electricity, magnetism and the weak force are thought to have once been the same thing, or at least, different aspects of the same thing.
And you're not wrong if you think this is all weird, strange or abnormal. In fact, renormalizing the electroweak was how three nerds (Glashow, Salam and Weinberg) earned their Nobel Prize.
The strong force keeps it all together. What is it? It is ordinary matter (as opposed to non-ordinary matter, called dark matter, which is believed to exist but about which we know very little). Specifically, the strong force binds protons and neutrons into nucleons, and confines quarks to their hadrons. (Jeez! It’s got to be true, you just can’t make this stuff up!)
It is thought that the strong and the electroweak were once unified but went their separate ways shortly after the big bang.
GUTs are about unifying three of the four fundamental forces. TOEs are about unifying all four. Unfortunately, the fourth fundamental force, gravity, has a mind of its own and continues to go its own way. Relatively speaking, of course!
TOEs aim to wrap all four fundamental forces into a nice, neat, tight, little parcel. And the best way to wrap a parcel is with string.
If you think physicists’ guts and toes are abnormal, string theory is even more so. What with 10, 11, 26 or 31 dimensions, most rolled up so small you can’t ever see them, yes, compactified if you must!
But what has all that got to do with the meaning and purpose of life? Everything. And every thing.
It’s all about unifying, joining, integrating. But ironically you have to differentiate before you can integrate. So it’s all about differentiation within unification. The Many in One. The All in One.
Let’s not allow quantum physicists to monopolise the unification market. All persons, including but not limited to humans, have the gestaltish ability and the strong need to name, define, create, categorize. We’re great at drawing boundaries. We love to place things in their places, sort things into sets. It’s pleasant and satisfying when sum of the parts are greater than the whole.
But let’s unify more than just a handful of bosons, force-bearing particles. Let's unify more than all the fermions that matter, that are matter. Let's join together more than a mere and paltry 26 dimensions. Let’s unify the whole of Reality, including but not limited to the material Multiverse.
There are infinite dimensions to Reality, some compactified others expandified, some nested within others like matryoshka dolls, like the sheaves on a Calabi-Yau manifold, remember? Let’s unify every little thing and every medium-sized thing and every large thing. And that unification is Everything: the biggest unification there is.
Because every thing is part of Everything. It’s entirely obvious, uncontroversial, indubitable, undeniable and indisputable that every thing is part of Everything. By definition, for god’s sake! Axiomatically!
Everything includes every thing: hard things, soft things, real things, unreal things, material things (such as rocks and trees and human beings), immaterial things (such as souls and thoughts and dreams and mathematical formulae), and everything in between.
Within Everything are sentient beings and non-sentient beings, sentient beings with language, and sentient beings without language, subjects and objects, the living and the dead.
Everything is the biggest gestalt of all. Jesus is part of Everything. Jehovah is part of Everything. Zeus is. Satan is. Ahura Mazda. Beelzebub. Gaia. Quetzalcoatl. All part of Everything. Everything encompasses every thing for all time and all times: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Everything is in time and out of time. Everything is here, there, everywhere.
Because Everything encompasses all contexts, Everything is context-independent. Because Everything encompasses all values, Everything is values-free, ie does not represent or favour any particular value over any other. All attributes or qualities are present in Everything. Things that are conscious are part of Everything: therefore consciousness is a quality of Everything. Things that work towards goals are part of Everything: therefore working towards goals is a quality of Everything. Things that are alive are part of Everything: being alive is a quality of Everything. Things that are dead are part of Everything: being dead is a quality of Everything. Everything is alive and dead: a divine paradox.
The purpose and meaning of Everything’s life is to know, experience and understand every single one of her infinite aspects. Among those infinite aspects are you, me, the girl next door with greasy hair, a rat-shaped rock in my backyard, and a whole lot of other things as well -- in fact all things, including what it is like to be a bat or a strange quark.
The purpose and meaning of my life is to help Everything experience, know and understand what it's like to be me.
The purpose and meaning of your life is to help Everything experience, know and understand what it's like to be you.
The purpose and meaning of the Pope’s life is to help Everything experience what it's like being the Pope.
The purpose and meaning of the Dalai Lama’s life is for Everything to know what it's like being the Dalai lama.
The purpose and meaning of the life of the girl next door with greasy hair is to help Everything understand what it's like to be the girl next door with greasy hair.
A rock's here to be a rock. A bat’s here to be a bat. You’re here to be you. I’m here being me.
The purpose and meaning of Everything's life, life in general, is to know, experience and understand every part of her infinite being.
We are all creators. We all help create Everything, each creating a particular part for which we take ownership and responsibility.
The nature of reality is as follows: Everything. If and when the universe came into being, Everything came into being. If and when the universe dies and vanishes to nothingness, Everything dies and vanishes to nothingness.
Everything is made of the same stuff as every thing is made of, ie, Everything-stuff is in a rock, a tree, a bacterium, a force, an idea, a dog, a molecule, a piece of anti-matter, dark energy, light energy, a book, a singularity, a lightning strike, a formula, a thought, a person, an animal, an algorithm, an alien, a leper, the act of defenestration, broken glass, shards of perplexity, and a bat.)
Entanglement writ large: no separation between anything. Everything is the same stuff. As the Buddhist said to the hotdog vendor, "make me one with everything". It's the Great Chain of Being. It's worlds within worlds. Reality scales every which way, not just up and down. Reality is lumpy and smooth, discreet and continuous, particulate and wavy. Like the quantum foam, Reality is granular in a non-granular way.
Most of what I've said in this post is factual and logical. There's nothing dubious about the statement that every thing is part of Everything. But now I will state something that I believe to be true but which is not initially self-evident. And that is that Everything, aka Reality, is alive and well and living her dream! I believe that Everything, as a whole, is an actual, living organism, a lifeform who is growing and learning and developing. I believe that Reality, as a whole, is The Biggest Person There Is: was born, will die and will be reborn. (Technically, there are several scenarios for the birth, death and rebirth of the material universe, including my personal favourite, the "Big Bang / Big Crunch Cycle", for which a poetic metaphor is, the heartbeat of the cosmos.)
Life really does seem to operate at multiple levels simultaneously, with cells and bacteria living in the bodies of living organisms, living in the living biospheres of living planets, and so on... Isn't Life more likely at the higher resolution, the finer granularity, the broader gestalt? If anything has personhood, wouldn't it be the larger, more complex entity, hence the saying, "larger than life"? It's hard to pin down "life", to define it, satisfactorily, in words. But I think it comes reasonably close to say that life is structured chaos, that it's an emergent process activated by the attainment of a certain level of complexity. And there's nothing more complex, more structured and more chaotic, than Everything.