The Biggest Idea about the Universe: Convergence

Convergence is considered to be one of the most important ideas about the Universe. It’s an idea that focuses on how disparate areas of science are still fundamentally linked. Two events that helped us reach this point occurred in the 1850’s and were the understanding of energy and its conservation and evolution by natural selection as explained by Charles Darwin. The fact that these two events occurred within the same decade was monumental for science and was when the process of convergence first emerged.


Hermann von Helmholtz was the first to codify the conservation of energy by bringing together the sciences of magnetism, heat, electricity, optics, food chemistry, and blood chemistry. It also identified energy as being something that can neither be destroyed nor created, simply converted from one form to another. When it came to evolution it was Darwin who collated results from geology, botany, zoology and astronomy to demonstrate how there was an “order in the rocks” and that living forms changed depending on their geological age and way the Universe was evolving at that time.

Computer simulation of the large-scale structure of the universe. Credit: Andrew Pontzen and Fabio Governato Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0)


This may have been the first instance we saw of convergence, but since then we’ve seen several other examples. Niels Bohr’s discoveries demonstrated the link between physics and chemistry, while Albert Einstein showed how space and time come together to create what’s known as spacetime. Another important discovery was made during World War II by Erwin Schrodinger that showed how physics was the governing force behind gene characteristics. And since then astronomy and physics have also been tied together.

The importance of convergence in the Universe is paramount to us understanding the real secrets of this world and beyond, and as quoted by Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize winner and professor of physics at the University of Texas it may be “the most important thing about the universe.” Finding this overlap in various areas brings exciting times to our doors and leading us down a path of a very insightful future.



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