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Over the past few centuries, two theoretical frameworks have been developed that, as a whole, most closely resemble a ToE. On the other hand, QFT is a theoretical framework that only focuses on three non-gravitational forces for understanding the universe in regions of both small scale and low mass: sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, etc. Through years of research, physicists have experimentally confirmed with tremendous accuracy virtually every prediction made by these two theories when in their appropriate domains of applicability. Since the usual domains of applicability of GR and QFT are so different, most situations require that only one of the two theories be used.
To resolve this conflict, a theoretical framework revealing a deeper underlying reality, unifying gravity with the other three interactions, must be discovered to harmoniously integrate the realms of GR and QFT into a seamless whole: a single theory that, in principle, is capable of describing all phenomena. He thus tried to describe “everything” starting from a few axioms. Any “theory of everything” is similarly expected to be based on axioms and to deduce all observable phenomena from them. Laplace thus envisaged a combination of gravitation and mechanics as a theory of everything. Laplace’s vision has to be amended: a theory of everything must include gravitation and quantum mechanics.
However, he found no connection. In this problem he thus asked for what today would be called a theory of everything. In Einstein’s day, the strong and the weak forces had not yet been discovered, yet, he found the potential existence of two other distinct forces -gravity and electromagnetism- far more alluring. This launched his thirty-year voyage in search of the so-called “unified field theory” that he hoped would show that these two forces are really manifestations of one grand underlying principle. During these last few decades of his life, this quixotic quest isolated Einstein from the mainstream of physics. Understandably, the mainstream was instead far more excited about the newly emerging framework of quantum mechanics.