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Researchers close in on experiments that could solve physics' 'biggest single problem'

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The theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity have held up time and again at describing the physics of our universe at a micro and a macro scale, but when it comes to gravity, the two pose a major problem that physicists haven't been able to resolve: for certain interactions, the two theories describe two different outcomes. Finding out what actually happens in those interactions isn't so simple — such interactions have minute differences that are seemingly undetectable. But according to Quanta Magazine, more and more researchers are beginning to think it might soon be possible to detect them.

As instruments gain more precision and researchers explore new ways of studying this problem, the possibility of soon resolving the theories' incompatibility is beginning to appear more likely. "The biggest single problem of all of physics is how to reconcile [general relativity's] gravity and quantum mechanics," Philip Stamp, a theoretical physicist at the University of British Columbia, tells Quanta. In a piece that breaks both theories down to their basics, Quanta checks in with a number of physicists who are trying to solve that very problem, and explains what they think might happen when they get there.