The standard model (SM) of particle physics is one of the great experimentally verified pillars of modern physics. It is concerned in describing the world at its smallest scale, the quantum level of reality; see [Ku00] for a recent review. Einstein's theory of general relativity (GR) is the second pillar in the quest for a complete and successful theoretical description of the world. As the SM, GR is also experimentally tested to an astonishing degree of accuracy, but unlike its counterpart is concerned with the workings of reality at the largest scale, the cosmological evolution of our universe; e.g. [Pea99]. However, a closer look at this apparent success story reveals some very deep and serious conceptual and theoretical problems. The most obvious being the impossibility of melding the two theories into one fundamental description of reality, i.e. quantum gravity. This in fact has been and still is the greatest quest in theoretical physics.
Within the context of this paper we would like to outline some very general features which either stand in the way of unification at a very basic level or hint at a possible generic extensions of the prevailing theories. In chapter 2 the Higgs mechanism of the SM is analyzed, which is the only unverified component of the theory. A new interpretation of this mechanism at a fundamental level is proposed. In section 3.1 cosmology is reviewed from a new angle emerging from recent experimental data. This is brought into relation with the mechanisms of inflation of appendix A.2. Section 3.3 discusses the cosmological constant problem. Chapter 4 presents a unification of the core concepts discussed in the preceding chapters and appendix A.2. Finally, in sections 4.2.2 and 4.3 the main proposal and outlook for future work is summarized. The numerous sections appearing in appendix A give additional information on related topics appearing in the text, such as the notion of the axion, quintessence and compactification of Kaluza-Klein theories. Additional sections of appendix A are concerned with the greater questions of quantum gravity, the nature of space and time and some issues of quantum mechanics. Appendix B introduces a concrete course of action on which any further research should be based on. The last chapter, containing notes and comments on the main text and the appendices, allows a better structuring of the paper as the two levels of relevance permit a more general discussion without loosing sight of the main ideas.