How close can physics bring us to a truly fundamental understanding of the world?

George Musser in Scientific American:

Physics seems to be one of the only domains of human life where truth is clear-cut. The laws of physics describe hard reality. They are grounded in mathematical rigor and experimental proof. They give answers, not endless muddle. There is not one physics for you and one physics for me but a single physics for everyone and everywhere. Physics often seems weird, but that’s a good sign—it is not beholden to preconceptions. In a world that can seem claustrophobic, where the same debates go round in circles, physics injects some genuine novelty into life and jolts us out of the ruts we fall into.

Physics is also the bedrock of the broader search for truth. If you follow the chains of explanation in other sciences, you eventually wind up in physics. The success of physics and its role in grounding other sciences support a broadly naturalistic, or physicalist, worldview: that all phenomena have physical explanations and that notions such as élan vital or incorporeal souls have no place in serious thought anymore. Physics does not dictate how we run our lives or resolve pressing moral dilemmas, but it sets the backdrop against which we decide these questions.

Yet if physics strikes most people as truth seeking at its purest, it doesn’t always seem that way to physicists themselves.

More here.  [Thanks to Misha Lepetic.]