Edward Witten on 'the theory of everything'

"The Institute for Advanced Study has hosted some of the greatest scientific minds of our time—Einstein was one of its first Professors, J. Robert Oppenheimer its longest-serving Director—and today's guest counts among them."

Edward Witten, Professor Emeritus in the School of Natural Sciences, is the latest guest on the BBC podcast The Life Scientific. Witten joined host Jim Al-Khalili to discuss his career, which has spanned some of the most exciting periods in modern theoretical physics, and his so-called "white whale," the problem of quark confinement, that has both obsessed and eluded him since his days as a student.

Reflecting on the "special place" of the Institute, Witten described it as "a very nice atmosphere to work," with "very few responsibilities, all one has to do is one's research." He also spoke of the stimulation provided by his IAS colleagues, "both the senior faculty and the young researchers," who are considered "among the best in their fields." The podcast concludes with Witten's thoughts on whether a "theory of everything" is achievable.

Listen at BBC Sounds