Feynman's TOE and Motl's Convenient UnTruth
It's the sum of contributions from all the laws of physics:
U = UNewton + UGauss + . . . ,
where, for instance, UNewton = (F - ma)^2 and UGauss = (del · E - rho)^2.
So we can capture all the laws of physics we know, and all the laws yet to be discovered, in this one unified equation. But it's a complete cheat, of course, because there is no useful algorithm for unpacking U, other than to go back to its component parts.
Lubos latest post is a rant attacking Thomas Thiemann's latest paper(hep-th/0608210) in which he claims of Thiemann's "Master Constraint" program that
...Thiemann's biggest discovery is thus exactly equivalent to Feynman's joke.
True? Not exactly. In fact it is a distortion so drastic as to be of the form conventionally labelled a lie.
The irony is that Motl fairly faithfully describes parts of what Thiemann did well enough that one can call "bullshit" purely on the basis of LM's own text. Thiemann has a set of constraint equations labelled by some indices. He packs these equations up into a single matrix equation. This packing has several points, which I will briefly describe, but most importantly, there is a way for "unpacking" his M, unlike Feynman's function.
The most elementary point is notational simplicity - a lot of equations are summarized as one. When Maxwell wrote down his equations, there were twelve of them: four sets of three component equations. The development of vector analysis allowed those to be simplified to the four vector equations undergrads learn today. Moreover, the vector notation makes manifest the equation's independence of particular coordinates. Four-tensor or differential form notation introduces additional concision and makes manifest the euations crucial Lorentz invariance.
Thiemann's master equation is like that. The second point of the equation is to, as he puts it:
...use the associated freedom to regularise the square of the constraints:
The generalization preserves the information present in the original equations but allows additional degrees of freedom to be exploited in solving them - this is a common tactic in physics at all levels, as Lubos well knows. In addition, such reformulations often have heuristic value, making possible new approaches and ideas.
Note that I haven't made any judgement on the usefulness or even validity of the Master Constraint Program. I have rather merely pointed out that Motl has described in a completely, and unfortunately characterically, dishonest fashion.