Gödel and the end of physics
Stephen Hawking seems to have recently changed his mind on the prospect of a theory of everything, as witnessed by his Dirac Centennial lecture "Gödel and the end of physics", given in 2002 but only just posted online. Most interesting is his discussion of the relationship between Gödel's Theorem and a theory of everything—unless we are Platonists (and as a recent reviewer said, being caught in bed with metaphysics isn't the thing to do in Paris) our final theory is necessarily self-referential, given that it is itself part of the universe it is purporting to describe. But if the final theory is self-referential, and takes a mathematical form, it seems liable to Gödel's Theorem, which dictates that any finite axiomatised mathematical system is either inconsistent or incomplete. While the analogy seems very stretched (Gödel's Theorem is one of those things that everyone likes to cite, all the time, for anything however remotely metaphorically connected with it), it seems that it is enough to convince Hawking that science will never end. Convenient for scientists, of course—it must always be uneasy to predict the end of the discipline in which you're engaged—I'd like to see a book of interviews: Fukuyama on the end of history, Hegel or Heidegger or Rorty on the end of philosophy (the interview would have to be with Rorty of course, and he always is happy to put his own ideas into the mouths of the other two), maybe Brian Greene and Hawking on theories of everything, the end of science. Wrapped up, of course, by Jean Baudrillard on the end of reality.