Friday, October 17, 2008

Garrett Lisi: A beautiful new theory of everything

Via, a beautiful theory from a fascinating guy:


Mr. JM said...

This seems interesting.

Not surprisingly, though, adherents to the Church of String Theory would have none of it, and attacked Garrett Lisi for his theory -- one of those adherents calling it a "big joke." I find this to be a better article, though.


Unknown said...

Very cool link, thanks for passing this along! Now to wait for LHC's results ...

Received FF2 yesterday, btw. A beautiful thing, containing many new theories of everything I'll be reading shortly.

Lou Anders said...

Thanks for the link, John-Mark. I'm reading the New Yorker piece now. Struck by how this line - There is a persistent legend in physics of the hermit genius, the scientist who drops out of academia and then returns, many years later, with an insight that moves the discipline forward. - applies to religions too.

Alvaro, my friend! I hope you like it. I'm uber-proud of FF2.

Mr. JM said...

That was a good part indeed. I particularly liked the quote from the MIT professor on page 6:

"Columbus made mistakes and thought he was in India. Lisi made a few errors, but this pales in significance to his possibly opening up a whole new world for exploration. E8 is like North America, South America, and the Pacific Ocean rolled into one. No one in Europe knew anything about it. [Lisi's] daring possibly creates an agenda for scientists for the next hundred years or more."

Lou Anders said...

It will be very interesting to see if that plays out. Meanwhile, Lissi's lifestyle makes for a good character in fiction, doesn't it?

Mr. JM said...

Meanwhile, Lissi's lifestyle makes for a good character in fiction, doesn't it?

Absolutely. In fact, I had been thinking that he seems like the kind of character one of my favorite new writers (Ted Kosmatka) might create. Or maybe Nancy Kress. It's certainly fuel for a story, no doubt.

Lou Anders said...

Or mid-90s Greg Egan.

Anonymous said...

"Sean Says:
December 11th, 2007 at 10:52 am
This is really not the place to argue about the technical merits of Lisi’s theory. My whole original point is that the paper did not, on the face of it, look nearly interesting enough to warrant all this attention, and the subsequent discussion has borne that out.

Saying “there are still some issues to be ironed out” is a cop-out. In addition to the mentioned problem with mixing gravity and internal symmetries, the original theory was not unified, not quantized, and somewhat ad hoc. Jacques pointed out in his first post that you couldn’t embed all three fermion generations in E_8, which Lisi admitted was true, and in a new post he shows that you can’t even embed one generation. If anyone does not agree, it would make sense to point out why over there. And “new proposals sometimes don’t fully work at first” doesn’t count; if the Standard Model can’t be fit inside E_8, there is nothing even conjecturally interesting about the proposal.

This is a sad case where media attention gave an utterly incorrect view of the scientific process." --

"Brevity is the soul of wit, and the Truth sets us free:
1) Lisi’s paper does not present a theory of everything.
2) Lisi’s paper makes no predictions.
3) Lisi’s paper offers no novel, sensible calculations.
4) Lisi’s paper is replete with errors, as noted by Distler et al, and it adds fermions and bosons.
5) Smolin called Lisi’s paper “fabulous” and hyped it to the media.
6) Without reading and understanding the paper, Woit gave it a lot of attention on his powerful blog, further fueling the media storm.
7) Bee, who is employed by Smolin, presented the paper as gospel, and only backtracked and reason and logic were brought to the table by others.
8) Lisi’s paper was knowingly mistitled.
9) Lisi must refrain from “ironic” lying titles in the future, so as not to confuse Fox News:,2933,311952,00.html :
Laid-Back Surfer Dude May Be Next Einstein — “For his part, Lisi self-mockingly calls his finding “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.”
In the name of Truth and Science, the following must be done:
1) Lisi should retract his error-riddled, mistitled paper from, whereupon he can feel free to correct the errors, retitle it, and resubmit it, if it is still worth submitting.
2) Smolin should step forth and either apologize to the scientific community for calling the paper “Fabulous,” or he should elaborate on what he meant by the word “Fabulous.”
3) Peter should use his powerful and influential blog to aid in serving truth and science and setting the record straight."