woah, that’s like deep

Surfer dude comes up with the Theory of Everything?

An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists.
Despite this unusual career path, his proposal is remarkable because, by the arcane standards of particle physics, it does not require highly complex mathematics.

Even better, it does not require more than one dimension of time and three of space, when some rival theories need ten or even more spatial dimensions and other bizarre concepts. And it may even be possible to test his theory, which predicts a host of new particles, perhaps even using the new Large Hadron Collider atom smasher that will go into action near Geneva next year.

Although the work of 39 year old Garrett Lisi still has a way to go to convince the establishment, let alone match the achievements of Albert Einstein, the two do have one thing in common: Einstein also began his great adventure in theoretical physics while outside the mainstream scientific establishment, working as a patent officer, though failed to achieve the Holy Grail, an overarching explanation to unite all the particles and forces of the cosmos.

Intriguingly, the theory apparently has something to do with “E8“, an 8-dimensional mathematical shape with 248 points that pops up in theoretical physics and in nature. So, the universe might well look like this, in a sense:


There’s a lot more information about E8 at the American Institute of Math – including some clever marketing text describing E8’s mysteries as containing more information that the human genome, and the calculations delving into its nature being the size of Manhattan if written out in tiny print on paper.

3 thoughts on “woah, that’s like deep”

  1. Meh.

    On the plus side – this guy isn’t a crank. What he’s saying is actually proper physics. But well, the radical surfer dude angle is way overplayed – he’s pretty mainstream, has the proper PhDs and studies physics seriously. He’s not some dropout punk like Einstein.

    As for his theory, from what I gather, it isn’t bad. Some parts of it have been praised as neat. But some parts are kinda problematic – in particular, it violates a certain theorem about relationships between physical laws. There is reason to suspect that this theorem is wrong anyway, however, but the degree of the violation might overrule that. Still, until the theory gets some predictive results under its belt, it’ll still remain under the shadow of more studied and more understood String based theories.

    I mean, the difference between this and Einstein’s work was that Einstein was taking measurements that everyone agreed with, and showing what logically must come of that. Unification theories are more difficult, since much of what people are doing are essentially model fitting – making up rules to explain what you’ve already seen – and there’s a real danger of just displaying some coincidences.

  2. I agree that the surfer angle is overplayed, but the thing I take away from it is how it remains possible for someone with no university affiliation to come up with original work. easier for theoreticians, of course, but regardless it runs against the grain of the Established Order of Things. Thats more the shakeup that I think is relevant.

    as far as to applicability, I have zero qualification to assess.

  3. His model does make experimental predictions, however, which could possibly be verified within the next 20 years.

    What is the theorem he is supposedly violating?

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