Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything
Telegraph.co.uk ^ | 14 Nov 2007 | Roger Highfield

Posted on 11/14/2007 11:33:43 AM PST by snarks_when_bored

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything


By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 6:01pm GMT 14/11/2007

An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which as received rave reviews from scientists.

rr
The E8 pattern (left), Garrett Lisi surfing (middle) and out of the water (right)

Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt).

In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. "Being poor sucks," Lisi says. "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."

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.

advertisement

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.

Now Lisi, currently in Nevada, has come up with a proposal to do this. 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 tells The Telegraph.

"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 today 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.

He has high hopes that his new theory could provide what he says is 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.

The reason for the excitement is that Lisi's model also takes account of gravity, a force that has only successfully been included by a rival and highly fashionable idea called string theory, one that proposes particles are made up of minute strings, which is highly complex and elegant but has lacked predictions by which to do experiments to see if it works.

But some are taking a cooler view. Prof Marcus du Sautoy told the Telegraph: "The proposal in this paper looks a long shot and there seem to be a lot things still to fill in."

And a colleague Eric Weinstein in America added: "Lisi seems like a hell of a guy. I'd love to meet him. But my friend Lee Smolin is betting on a very very long shot."

Lisi's inspiration lies in the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 - a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887, but 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 says "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 realised was that he could find a way to place the various elementary particles and forces on E8's 248 points. What remained was 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 with observations in the real world. "How cool is that?" he says.

The crucial test of Lisi's work will come only when he has made testable predictions. Lisi is now calculating the masses that the 20 new particles should have, in the hope that they may be spotted when the Large Hadron Collider starts up.

"The theory is very young, and still in development," he told the Telegraph. "Right now, I'd assign a low (but not tiny) likelyhood to this prediction.

"For comparison, I think the chances are higher that LHC will see some of these particles than it is that the LHC will see superparticles, extra dimensions, or micro black holes as predicted by string theory. I hope to get more (and different) predictions, with more confidence, out of this E8 Theory over the next year, before the LHC comes online."



TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: maybeyesmaybeno; physics; science; stringtheory; surfer; theoryofeverything
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200201-227 next last
Maybe there's something to this, maybe there's not. It's gotten some attention, anyway. Some links:


1 posted on 11/14/2007 11:33:45 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: RadioAstronomer; longshadow; grey_whiskers; PatrickHenry; headsonpikes; Iris7; Junior; ...

Funning around...


2 posted on 11/14/2007 11:34:30 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored
Spicoli shoots and scores!
Mr. Hand would have been proud.
3 posted on 11/14/2007 11:35:55 AM PST by AU72
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

maybe it’s like surfin’ is radical dude! and like it makes everything make sense and stuff. right on duude!


4 posted on 11/14/2007 11:37:20 AM PST by Ancient Drive
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AU72

Uncle Martin would’ve been, too...


5 posted on 11/14/2007 11:37:50 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

The E8 looks like a potholder.


6 posted on 11/14/2007 11:37:50 AM PST by Greg F (Duncan Hunter is a good man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

“Now Lisi, currently in Nevada, has come up with a proposal to do this. 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.”

That thar is an impressive endorsement. O_O


7 posted on 11/14/2007 11:38:15 AM PST by Constantine XIII
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

bump


8 posted on 11/14/2007 11:38:54 AM PST by mnehring (I am free not to support Ron Paul... Wow, I feel special...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

Kowabunga, dude.


9 posted on 11/14/2007 11:40:19 AM PST by Samwise (Anyone who really wants to be President isn't fit for the job.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

Hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk It’s still rock and roll to me


10 posted on 11/14/2007 11:40:24 AM PST by dennisw (Islam - "a transnational association of dangerous lunatics")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

11 posted on 11/14/2007 11:40:39 AM PST by Dr.Deth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored; TrueKnightGalahad; honolulugal; Chanticleer; girlscout
Re: In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. "Being poor sucks," Lisi says. "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."

And he summers in Hawaii. Gadzooks! Wish... I was that poor!

12 posted on 11/14/2007 11:41:13 AM PST by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

The transcript of Lisi explaining the E8 diagram to another physicist,

Lisi: Dude, look.

Physicist: Dude?

Lisi: Dude, yeah.

Physicist: Dude, no way!

Lisi: Dude, way!

Physicist: Duuude...


13 posted on 11/14/2007 11:42:16 AM PST by Gideon7
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

‘In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. “Being poor sucks,” Lisi says. “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.”’

(eyes rolling)


14 posted on 11/14/2007 11:43:22 AM PST by Badeye (That Karma thing keeps coming around, eh Sally? (chuckle))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

I thought Fibonnaci’s ratios were the secret to the universe.

He is likely unemployed w/ good reason.

MV


15 posted on 11/14/2007 11:43:40 AM PST by madvlad (A republican at age 20 has no heart; a democrat at age 50 has no brain. Brains are better.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AU72

Time will tell if its correct, but just fundamentally I’ve not bought into the extra dimensions theories... Sort of just comes accross like giant fudge factors with fancy names... math doesn’t work out.. just add another dimension so it does.


16 posted on 11/14/2007 11:44:07 AM PST by HamiltonJay
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Constantine XIII

HEY thats the same thing i drew on a drink napkin at the BLUE MARTINI here in orlando...last night.....dang im as smart looped as i am sober....

anyways i thought of this thing a long time ago i just forgot to tell anybody ‘bout it.....but it does work, whatEVER it is and WHATever it does....happily at least now...the universe is ‘splained and saved...

excelsior....

no need to thank me.


17 posted on 11/14/2007 11:44:22 AM PST by flat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

I still contend the answer is “42”!


18 posted on 11/14/2007 11:44:42 AM PST by Miles the Slasher
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

Humph, I came up with that theory years ago.


19 posted on 11/14/2007 11:45:24 AM PST by Hacklehead (Proud graduate of the Klingon School of Interpersonal Communication.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

20 posted on 11/14/2007 11:45:48 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (Without the Media, the Left and Islamofacists are Nothing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

the headline is really quite deceptive, the surfer dude actually holds a doctorate in theoretical physics.

Interesting article, too bad i am unlikely to understand E8.


21 posted on 11/14/2007 11:46:07 AM PST by WoofDog123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

No big deal, Douglas Adams answered the ultimate question long ago. The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything...is 42...time now to figure out what the question is.


22 posted on 11/14/2007 11:46:14 AM PST by Sudetenland (Liberals love "McCarthism," they just believe he was targeting the wrong side.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Constantine XIII

Yep, I was athinkin’ that thar same thang jest las year after we drank up uncle zeb’s white lightnin’. You’d be surprised at what you think ‘bout after a jar or two of that stuff. :0 )


23 posted on 11/14/2007 11:46:29 AM PST by geezerwheezer (get up boys, we're burnin' daylight!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Dr.Deth

Darn, I took too long looking for an older photo.

Good one!


24 posted on 11/14/2007 11:46:33 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (Without the Media, the Left and Islamofacists are Nothing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Miles the Slasher

Damn! beat me to it.


25 posted on 11/14/2007 11:46:55 AM PST by Sudetenland (Liberals love "McCarthism," they just believe he was targeting the wrong side.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Bender2

It sucks being him.


26 posted on 11/14/2007 11:47:21 AM PST by girlscout
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: flat

If it’s simple and beautiful, odds are it’s correct. The universe never seems to want anything to do with ugly math.


27 posted on 11/14/2007 11:47:25 AM PST by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

Uncle Martin! Uncle Martin! I know you’re in here!


28 posted on 11/14/2007 11:48:36 AM PST by LongTimeMILurker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored
I have no idea what they're talking about, but I find it interesting that physicists tend to assume that beauty and simplicity are signs of a valid "theory of everything."

Maybe fundamental theories tend to be simple and beautiful. But the physicists may be inadvertantly searching for God, who is Beauty and Simplicity itself.

As one physicist stated, I eventually came to the idea of God, and realized that the theologians were already there.

29 posted on 11/14/2007 11:50:33 AM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ml/nj

self ping


30 posted on 11/14/2007 11:53:29 AM PST by ml/nj
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

bump for later reader


31 posted on 11/14/2007 11:54:19 AM PST by ChiefJayStrongbow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: madvlad

“He is likely unemployed w/ good reason.”

He may or may not be very good with holding a mundane job, but this has very little to do with his mental ability to deal with very abstract and esoteric material such as the theory he is working on. As per the article he has a doctorate in this area so presumably he knows his stuff, as I assume someone with little aptitude for theoretical physics would fare poorly in a doctorate program.

Having done a fair amount of somewhat advanced analysis, topology, and other theorem-based math work in college, I eventually saw that major stumbling blocks on problems/proofs/etc. would unravel or suddenly make more sense often at the most odd times, such as when trying to fall asleep. I concluded that the brain’s ability to deal with increasingly abstract puzzles such as that depended on some fairly different variables than, say, being able to grind out differential equations 100/hour or to hold an 8-5 job.


32 posted on 11/14/2007 11:55:04 AM PST by WoofDog123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop; marron

ping


33 posted on 11/14/2007 11:55:30 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

I think that white dot in the center of the pic on the left is me!

34 posted on 11/14/2007 11:56:18 AM PST by truthluva ("Character is doing the right thing even when no one is looking" - JC Watts)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Miles the Slasher
I still contend the answer is “42”!

Nah! Screwy Louis Farakhan has it figured out. The answer is "19".

35 posted on 11/14/2007 11:56:59 AM PST by jslade (The only thing you should FEEL when shooting insurgents is the rifle recoil.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Bender2

Being in Hawaii during the summer is probably the REASON he is so poor...it costs a LOT to live there and just eat.


36 posted on 11/14/2007 11:57:00 AM PST by Secret Agent Man
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored
Spicoli shoots and scores!

Mr. Hand would have been proud.

What Jefferson was saying was, "Hey! You know, we left this England place 'cause it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too!"

37 posted on 11/14/2007 11:58:20 AM PST by Alex Murphy ("Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time." - Amos 5:13)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Greg F
The E8 looks like a potholder.

It looks like a doily, not a potholder. I have disproven your theory with one simple, elegant rebuttal.

38 posted on 11/14/2007 11:58:37 AM PST by Hardastarboard (DemocraticUnderground.com is an internet hate site.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

bump


39 posted on 11/14/2007 12:00:32 PM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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

And I think that our universe isn't symmetrical.

40 posted on 11/14/2007 12:01:06 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WoofDog123

“I concluded that the brain’s ability to deal with increasingly abstract puzzles such as that depended on some fairly different variables than, say, being able to grind out differential equations 100/hour or to hold an 8-5 job.”

True in other areas, too. In academia you have a very high drone ratio. Drones like intellectual conformity - they want to stay inside whatevre the standard model is..


41 posted on 11/14/2007 12:01:42 PM PST by achilles2000 (Shouting "fire" in a burning building is doing everyone a favor...whether they like it or not)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

I did an E-8 drawing shortly after my 7th birthday, after getting a Spirograph as a birthday present...

Seriesly, I think that he’ll have all the answers in another 3 years

Mark


42 posted on 11/14/2007 12:02:59 PM PST by MarkL (Listen, Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Badeye

what does she look like?


43 posted on 11/14/2007 12:03:13 PM PST by Tulsa Ramjet ("If not now, when?" "Because it's judgment that defeats us.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Hardastarboard

thailand door mat


44 posted on 11/14/2007 12:03:55 PM PST by Tulsa Ramjet ("If not now, when?" "Because it's judgment that defeats us.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Tulsa Ramjet

‘what does she look like?’

Who cares, he’s a lazy bum.


45 posted on 11/14/2007 12:04:04 PM PST by Badeye (That Karma thing keeps coming around, eh Sally? (chuckle))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

I figured this was a thread on the political conspiracy theories of Sean Penn.


46 posted on 11/14/2007 12:04:41 PM PST by weegee (NO THIRD TERM. America does not need another unconstitutional Clinton co-presidency.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mvpel

“Lisi’s inspiration lies in the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 - a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887, but only fully understood by mathematicians this year after workings, that, if written out in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan.”

Simple? Beautifull maybe but simple, I think not.


47 posted on 11/14/2007 12:05:22 PM PST by dblshot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored
My own personal theory of "everything" is a tad more concise.

"It's all about the boobies"


48 posted on 11/14/2007 12:05:37 PM PST by Skip Ripley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: snarks_when_bored

49 posted on 11/14/2007 12:05:59 PM PST by SlowBoat407 (Free commerce is the only just way to redistribute wealth.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dr.Deth
The Journal of Irreproducible Results had an article on how to make any random data points “make sense” by just selecting the right type of graphing paper, whether that is circular, logarithmic, etc.
50 posted on 11/14/2007 12:06:45 PM PST by weegee (NO THIRD TERM. America does not need another unconstitutional Clinton co-presidency.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200201-227 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson