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How a Surfer Dude Stunned the World of Science With the 'Theory of Everything'

Surfer_4 A laid-back surfer has just drawn up a new theory of the universe that is blowing the establishment’s socks off. His theory is seen by some as the “Holy Grail of physics”, and is earning rave reviews from distinguished scientists. In fact, his model appears to be the elusive overarching explanation to unite all the particles and forces of the cosmos, which has been the most baffling riddle of modern physics—stumping even Einstein.

Garrett_lisi_2 Garrett Lisi, 39, may be operating outside of the scientific mainstream, but he’s no idiot. In fact, he’s a beach bum with a doctorate degree. But with almost no money, no university affiliation and no real responsibilities, Lisi spends most of his time surfing in Hawaii, where he occasionally does stints as a hiking guide and bridge builder, sleeping in a jungle yurt. In the winter, he spends the majority of his time snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

With a lifestyle revolving around riding wave and snow drifts, The Daily Galaxy had one burning question for Lisi: “How on Earth did you have the time to come up with the “Theory of Everything” in between so much snowboarding and surfing?”

Lisi’s chill response was, “I don't watch TV. Miraculously, this gives me plenty of time to surf, contemplate the secrets of the universe, and keep my girlfriend happy.”

But it’s not as if he didn’t put ANY effort into possibly solving the biggest mystery in the entire universe. Lisi admitted to the The Daily Galaxy that, “Between surfing and physics, I alternate days.”

While this kind of life sounds fun—solving the biggest mystery in the universe one day, hitting the waves the next—it does have its downside Lisi points out. "Being poor sucks. It's hard to figure out the secrets of the universe when you're trying to figure out where you and your girlfriend are going to sleep next month."

Fortunately, Lisi pulled it off anyway, and his proposed theory is nothing short of genius. Part of the excitement is that it does not require highly complex mathematics to understand. In the arcane world of particle physics, a simplified theory that actually makes sense, is a fine rarity indeed. Many scientists have speculated through the years that when the “Holy Grail” of physics was found, it would be beautiful, simple and easily understood. “The simplest answer is usually the correct answer,” goes the popular restatement of Occam's razor.

Perhaps even more exciting, Lisi’s theory does not require more than one dimension of time and three of space. Rival theories require ten to twenty-six or more spatial dimensions and other bizarre concepts before they start to become plausible. But what really sets Lisi’s theory apart from the pack is that it appears to be testable! His theory predicts a host of new particles, which could possibly be found using the new Large Hadron Collider atom smasher that will go into action near Geneva next year.

Some are even comparing Garrett Lisi to Albert Einstein. Although his work still has a very long way to go before the establishment would ever approve of that comparison, the two have at least one thing in common: Einstein also began his great adventure in theoretical physics while outside the mainstream scientific establishment. Einstein was working as a patent officer when he developed many of his most exciting theories, although he failed to achieve the “Holy Grail”. Lisi may have picked up where Einstein left off.

Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, describes Lisi's work as "fabulous". "It is one of the most compelling unification models I've seen in many, many years," he says.

"Although he cultivates a bit of a surfer-guy image its clear he has put enormous effort and time into working the complexities of this structure out over several years," Prof Smolin said.

"Some incredibly beautiful stuff falls out of Lisi's theory," adds David Ritz Finkelstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. "This must be more than coincidence and he really is touching on something profound."

The new theory reported recently in New Scientist has been laid out in an online paper entitled "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" by Lisi, who completed his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1999 at the University of California, San Diego.

Lisi and others are hopeful that this theory could provide what he calls a "radical new explanation" for the three decade old Standard Model, which weaves together three of the four fundamental forces of nature: the electromagnetic force; the strong force, which binds quarks together in atomic nuclei; and the weak force, which controls radioactive decay.

Much of the reason for all of the excitement is that Lisi's model also takes account of gravity, a force that has only successfully been included by one other rival theory—the highly fashionable “string theory”. The String Theory proposes that particles are made up of minute strings. Many physicists have been unimpressed with the many complexities of string theory, which make it nearly impossible to test. Even String theorists will admit it’s a near impossible theory to comprehend, let alone explain.

The inspiration behind Lisi's model is something you can actually see. It’s the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 – an eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887.  The pattern was only fully understood by mathematicians this year after workings, that, if written out in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan.

E8 encapsulates the symmetries of a geometric object that is 57-dimensional and is itself is 248-dimensional. Lisi said, "I think our universe is this beautiful shape."

What makes E8 so exciting is that Nature also seems to have embedded it at the heart of many bits of physics. One interpretation of why we have such a quirky list of fundamental particles is because they all result from different facets of the strange symmetries of E8.

Lisi's breakthrough came when he noticed that some of the equations describing E8's structure matched his own. "My brain exploded with the implications and the beauty of the thing," he tells New Scientist. "I thought: 'Holy crap, that's it!'"

What Lisi had realized was that he could find a way to place the various elementary particles and forces on E8's 248 points. What remained were 20 gaps, which he filled with notional particles, for example those that some physicists predict to be associated with gravity.

Physicists have long puzzled over why elementary particles appear to belong to families, but this arises naturally from the geometry of E8, he says. So far, all the interactions predicted by the complex geometrical relationships inside E8 match seamlessly with observations in the real world. "How cool is that?" he says.

Pretty damn cool, actually. We’ll just have to see how it pans out. Could a beach bum really come up with the answer to the biggest question in the universe? Some fellow physicists say there is no way, and are calling Lisi a “crackpot” and worse. But maybe they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first. Or maybe they’re just bitter about the possibility that they’ve spent the last 30 years glued to their calculators in vain, while this guy was out catching waves. Yeah, that’s got to hurt.

Posted by Rebecca Sato

Related Galaxy posts:

"The Elegant Universe" -A Galaxy Insight
New, Revised Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"42": Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Foreshadows Actual Weight of Universe!
CERN's Search for the 'Holy Grail of Physics' Set to Go Live Next Spring
Weird Science: Can Time Move Backwards?
Neutron Stars: New Discovery Proves Einstein's Space-Time Predictions
The Biological Universe -A New Copernican Revolution?
"Lord of the Rings" -Europe's Galactic Machine
The God Particle -The Holy Grail of Physics: has it been found?
Search for the "God Particle"

 

Links:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.0770
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19626303.900
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/11/14/scisurf114.xml&CMP=ILC-mostviewedbox

Comments

i don't get it??? most of the article seems just to be about how brilliant this theory is and how everybody loves it and stuff, what's this theory

Chris Huston: "I have seen no test that can confirm this idea of all fundamental particles + another 20 particles he made up being the sides of a 57 dimensional object is something that can be tested"

That's not what's happening. Part of what he has done is create something similar to the periodic table. When the periodic table was first created, there were lots of holes for undiscovered particles, but Mendeleev knew the structure and some other properties for the elements that were missing. That's a lot like the 20 particles that were discussed here. Lisi doesn't know what those 20 particles are, but he knows a bit about their structure because of how they fit in the table. In this way, he is predicting something that can be discovered in the future, making the theory testable.

As for the 57 dimensions, I don't think that's really a big deal. The object is a model with 57 dimensions; he's not saying that the universe has 57 dimensions. Since it's just a mathematical model, there's nothing wrong with having lots of dimensions.

Christ, this is science for women. I know, I'm being sexist, but it's very much called for. Read on.

This is the personal story about a guy who is supposedly about to pierce 'established science' with his good-will attitude and a pretty drawing. We don't hear about it because the weight of his scientific arguments have gained any serious influence on the wild west that are the theories of unification (yeah, yet...) - we hear about it because we come to care for the guy. Yes, care, as in emotional care. We wish him well. We hope that he's right, not in the interest of discovering truth, but because it would be so cool...

And to soften up the sexism: I have no doubt that women are as much capable of scientific thought as men, but ignoring the fact that this is written from what would typically be called 'a female perspective' is absolutely ridiculous.

If you want to enjoy the post don't try to discern facts from fiction. Don't try to pry out any scientific truth. Just enjoy the story. Engage yourself in the tale of 'a fascinating young man'. Keep an open mind, as they say... That's all this is going to give you.

And BDN: ''As for the 57 dimensions, I don't think that's really a big deal. The object is a model with 57 dimensions; he's not saying that the universe has 57 dimensions. Since it's just a mathematical model, there's nothing wrong with having lots of dimensions.''

Please look here:

''E8 encapsulates the symmetries of a geometric object that is 57-dimensional and is itself is 248-dimensional. Lisi said, "I think our universe is this beautiful shape."''

So, according to Lisi, this is a model of THE UNIVERSE.

I once read in a well written book by Mr. Robert Anton Wilson that both Tesla and Edison refused to step on a podium with one another to accept the nobel prize. Mr. Wilson further explained that these two great thinkers had amazing objectivity quotients, allowing them to design and invent, but that quotient stopped, apparently, at the notion that they were both responsible for something great. All that Lisi has done is create a theory which will be tested and re-tested for many years. Once again, it is a theory. There is no journal of science indicating a law will be written up next week. Lisi obviously has a high objectivity quotient, allowing him to dream and write up this theory, which still remains unproven or proven. If you think that Lisi is wrong and your objectivity quotient is larger, where is your published paper on the theory of the universe? This is in no way a threat or attack on anyone, it is just an outlet for my frustration on the attack of a man who is doing nothing but trying to further man's understanding of the universe(however flawed or un-flawed it may be). I think there should be less talk and satire on the fact that he is a surfer and more on the paper itself. 'Is wrong' and 'Is right' are two statements I don't agree with: 'maybe', 'interesting', and 'let's take it to the lab!' are more the speed everyone deserves. And remember, "all perception is a gamble"

Mr. Garett's work is a sort of geometric mysticism in its current state indeed, but it still doesn't mean, it CANNOT have robust physical meaning. The most important point (which wasn't mentioned till now) is, the Lie group is not just a void geometrical structure. It's root system is describing the tightest structure of kissing hyperspheres, where the kissing points are sitting at the centers of another hyperspheres, recursively. The Aether Wave Theory proposes at least two dual ways, how to interpret such structure.

The cosmological one is maybe easier to imagine: it considers, the current Universe generation is formed by interior of giant dense collapsar, which is behaving like black hole from outer perspective. This collapse was followed by phase transition, which proceeded like crystallization from over-saturated solution by avalanche-like mechanism. During this, the approximately spherical zones of condensing false vacuum have intersect mutually, and from these places the another vacuum condensation has started (a sort of nucleation effect). We can observe the residuum of these zones as a dark matter streaks. Therefore, the dodecahedron structure of these zones should correspond the E8 polytope geometry, as being observed from inside.

The second interpretation of E8 is relevant for Planck scale, i.e. for outer perspective. The dense interior of black hole is forming the physical vacuum, which is filled by spongy system of density fluctuations, similar to nested foam. Such structure has even a behavior of soap foam, because it gets more dense after introducing of energy by the same way, like soap shaken inside of closed vessel. Such behavior leads to the quantum behavior of vacuum and particle-wave duality. Every energy wave, exchanged between pair of particles (i.e. density fluctuations of foam) is behaving like less or more dense blob of foam, i.e. like gauge boson particle. Every boson can exchange its energy with another particles, including other gauge bosons, thus forming another generation of interacalated particles.

Therefore the E8 Lie group solves the trivial question: which structure should have the tightest lattice of particles, exchanged by another particles? And such question has even perfect meaning from classical physics point of view! Such question has a perfect meaning in theory, describing the most dense structure of inertial particles, which we can even imagine, i.e. the interior of black hole

Mmmm, fresh chocolate chip cookies!

I have a string theory, At the end of each string there is a playful cat to entertain you for perhaps a dimension or two.

search up "A Beautiful New Theory of Everything" from the 2008 TEDTalks' Podcasts to hear Lisi give a 20 minute speech about his theory.

He doesn't give the best of speeches but at least it's the man himself talking

To be honest, it's not so surprising really. There are already many GUTs circling around, including string/M theory, for another to pop up is no big thing. But because of the guy's background, he's getting a lot of attention. And one of you said that it can be verified experimentally, by finding the remaining particles. Well so can the majority of the other GUTs! This one is no more special than any other. But the world of science will always be sceptical about unknown physicists making bold claims, until they have been verified by the majority of the people involved. (btw GUT stands for grand unified theory, for those that don't know)

Considering E8 takes 60GB as an equation factored to result and thus making it 60 times larger than the entire human genome, which area of the E8 solution does Mr Lisi specialize within? Oh hang on... I see...

I'd just like to point out that Occam's Razor does not state that the simplest answer is the best. It simply states that the truest answer will be the one with the least irrelevancies. Its been misshapen over time because what it ACTUALLY states is something that seems obvious to us now.

Either way, this guys my new hero.

Hmmm has anyone heard of metatron melchizadek and sacred geometry bout time the scientific world caught on.......

OK, Mr. or Ms. Physicist you say his paper is full of errors and misconceptions, how about pointing out a few for us, we're dying to hear it.

So what is his theory ?
Or was it too difficult to explain in detail.

If you want to see Lisi describe the E8, check out this TED talk.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/garrett_lisi_on_his_theory_of_everything.html

Man will continue to be NEANDERTHALS little more than animals
until Stupid ANGRY No life, Never amount to anything People like this commenting With thier NEGATIVITY
and Dumbfounded Opinions that do not help anyone Whatsoever,
what are you even doing here? proving people shouldnt try? and Where the hell has that gotten us?
are you really that Braindead?
THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT ON IDEAS and THOUGHTS AND TRYS
how could you call this Guy a FRAUD? When all he did is try,
how could you claim anything at all?
There is NO ABSOLUTE ANSWER, Life and Energy the most simple forces is Forever Changing THERE IS NO ANSWER TO EVERYTHING, and thats why none of you will ever know, I bet my Life on that
Until people realize it TAKES EVERYONES UNIVERSAL positive Mutual cooperation to achieve MANKINDS Main Goal, into Figuring out the Universe Mysteries.

woah. Funny I stumbled on this article. This guy came and gave a lecture at my school just a few months ago. It was a fascinating presentation

Leave science to scientists

Theory Of Everything Without Strings Attached.
Embarassingly Obvious And Simple.
See the signature links.

Life's Genesis Was Not Cells But First Gene's Self Reproduction.
Life Is Just Another Mass Format.


Since July 5 1997 I have developed and been proposing the following scenario of life's genesis:

* Life's genesis was not cell(s), but the self reproduction of yet uncelled ungenomed gene(s).

* There was NOT any "Pre-History Of Life" evolving in an archaic pre-modern life cell.

* Cells were definitely NOT life's genesis. Cells were products of evolution of Earth's primal organisms, of Earth's first stratum organisms, the RNA genes that have always been and still are running the show of life, the energy-storing biosphere survival, since Earth life's day one.

* A gene's self reproduction was distinctly an evolutionary, enhanced energy constraint event, above the earlier, random, radiated-energy-induced genes formations.

* Every evolutionary step is inherently an event of an enhanced energy constraint.

* Genomes, RNA and DNA, are functional organs evolved by the primary RNA genes. Cell membranes are also functional organs evolved by the primary RNA gene.

* Life is but one of the many many mass formats in the universe, and its evolution is driven as the evolution of all cosmic mass formats, to gain temporary enhanced energy constraint, i.e. to survive as long as possible.


Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)
03.2010 Updated Life Manifest
http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/54.page#5065
Cosmic Evolution Simplified
http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/240/122.page#4427
Gravity Is The Monotheism Of The Cosmos
http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/260/122.page#4887

PS:
This Theory Of Everything, with definition of evolution, covers also ALL aspects of anthropology. DH
=============

TOE: Religion Or Science?

(Fwd from the-scientist.com:)

I.

[quote=BobTS1162939] This is the Theory Of Everything In A Nutshell (TOEIANS):

Basic construction of the universe: 1. Particles 2. Strings 3. Frames.

Each particle has string. They combine with each other into quantum and physical objects.

Particles' travel along their strings appear to us as: 1. Gravity. 2. Properties. 3. Forces.

String-particle travels/lives within a frame seen as: 1. Waves. 2. Feelings 3. Influence.

Time is a one dimensional string whose constant value is 9. The universe is constructed on the number 3. Time moves outward dragging space with it. This outward expansion causes space which is a string to distort / stretch which we see as repairs / deterioration / aging / etc.. If the strings were decreasing we would see the reverse. Things would essentially become younger until they simply disappeared as opposing to dying / being not repairable as we see / experience now. The development of language and the effort to define things means particles / strings / frames have different names depending on the discipline.[/quote]

II. My comment

A) Since Life is, by our sensory conception, a virtual reality affair, religion is a legitimate virtual reality tool for going through life. But I am not religious. My senses do not become affected by the above TOEIANS. I embarassingly admit that hard as I try I am unable to comprehend the above TOEIANS.

B) My own conception of TOE is scientific, not religious, based strictly on data recorded and observed, of ubiquitous cosmic phenomena. And in presenting my TOE conception I do not deal with mechanisms but with the base processes.


Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)

Darnit stumbleupon, why are you sending me to years-outdated articles? For any future stumblers: this theory has been disproven.

I'd like actually be more part of this blog and to know what great things you have to offer for learn I think if you write original blogs like this you can improve the website.

I have read articles about of this topic but this is unique is very interesting and it has a lot of good information and it was very useful for me... Well keep doing that good job thanks for all..

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