Talks and shows

Theory of everything: Fundamental physics, pure mathematics and data science

Join Yang-Hui He as he describes physics' 400-year quest to find the theory of everything

mathematical notation on a chalboard
Image by jakob5200 from Pixabay

Event description

To many people, the phrase “the theory of everything” conjures memories of the Oscar-winning film about the life and science of Prof. Stephen Hawking. Yet the quest referred to in that title goes back much further. It is nothing less than the search for the holy grail of science: an elegant unified theory, encompassing all matter, forces and space-time itself. It stretches from Galileo and Newton, via Einstein and Dirac, to the most recent advances in superstring theory.

In this event, Prof. Yang-Hui He presents the story as a dance of discovery between data, physics and mathematics, each anticipating the other’s moves. They have all taken the lead at different times, yet for many today, including Prof. He, the guiding principle is the rigour and beauty of mathematics. It is fitting that this event is held at the Royal Institution, where Faraday uncovered the principles of electromagnetism. These inspired Maxwell's equations, a key component of any unifying theory.

Event type

This is a theatre event, where the speaker and audience are together in our theatre.

This event will not be livestreamed.

At the moment we are encouraging all of our guests and staff to continue wearing a face covering if they are able to, and to maintain a social distance wherever possible. However, the decision is now at your discretion.

Thank you for being respectful of individual choices and for being considerate of everyone’s comfort and safety.

About the speakers

Yang-Hui He is a Fellow at the London Institute, Professor at City University, Chang-Jiang Chair at NanKai University and Lecturer at Merton College, Oxford. He studied at Princeton, Cambridge and MIT and works at the interface of string theory, geometry and machine learning.


Doors to the theatre will open at 6.30pm. The event will begin at 7.00pm.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.