For the uninitiated, there is a classic gap:
1. The theoretical physicist
2. The experimental physicist
When I was taking undergrad honor's physics at the UW (despite how this seems impossible to anybody that knows me now), my prof proudly declared himself part of the experimental physic fraternity vs the rest of the physics staff. And, at the time of my undergrad degree, the link between theory and experiment for the deep question of the universe were more closely aligned.
[The University of Washington tends toward theoretical physics, so my Prof was an outsider.)
Experimental physicist have always insisted that they are the fun ones, since they are conversationalists and do things like dancing on tables at parties. The theoretical physicists need a computer, some paper and a quiet space--they are boring, boring.]
Up through the 1920-1980s, it was always a question of who would find the particles first: the theory or the experiments. However, this locked arm approach to the big questions is completely broken. The theoretical guys are now off in a space all of their own.
So while the world went through the Einstein and Standard Model revolutions, the theory and experiments were tying out. However, I would suggest that the model breaks down after this in the mid-1980s.
If we look at the situation today, in terms of the "big" questions of the universe, the theoretical and the experimental physicists seem to be at an all time splitting point, since the observation of the theory is no longer achievable. The theory guys are in a completely different universe (yes, that was a pun).
A debate along this lines is "is information destroyed?" When we first discovered black holes, everything that went into them was compressed to a singularity. Now, when Hakwins did his work on this, he came to the conclusion that information flowing into the black hole would be destroyed. This has been resisted by many scientist.
Even Hawking himself has reversed himself. Recently Hawkins himself has said that information wasn't destroyed. However, how does information stay preserved? A nice documentary on this can be found here.
Hawkins wants to say that information isn't destroyed in a black hole because there are multiple parallel universes, some which don't have black holes to destroy the information.
Leonard Susskind has suggested information is spread around the event horizon of th black hole. Both have mathematical model that potentially work. (Or could be modified to work.)
However, there is no experimental physicist willing to get within a mile of talking about how to even possibly verifying this in our life time.
The way to consider the Quantum level physics is often referred to as the "Standard Model." The Standard Model has been around since the early 70s. As we have looked at the Standard Model, it is very clear that we can find many of the particles that this mathematical model would suggest. With one exception, the Higgs Boson. So, we are 35 years after the standard model, but we haven't been able to find this particle.
"Large Hadron Collider," at CERN is hoping to find this when it becomes operational. However, as stated, even the most established model is just looking at being closed. However, this is such a big gap for theory to closure. And this closure is just for a almost sure model.
Ever year, theoretical physics is de-evolving into either mathematics or philosophy. To suggest otherwise would simply be disingenuous.