Stephen Bové - Art, Technology, Right Action

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything

A physics phd-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.

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."

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.

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.

Full paper here.

News here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

$1.6 Trillion - Another Cost of War Estimate

Let's see. If I were in charge of something, say the Department of Defense, and I stated in public, backed up by someone else, say the VP and President of the United States, that the so called "war on terror" in Afganistan and Iraq was going to cost $50B to $75B. And it turned out, 6 years later to have cost between $1.6 Trillion and $2.4 Trillion, which is at least 21 X (twenty one times, thats 2,100%) my original estimate, I have to tell you that I would expect 1) to be dismissed from office and taken to court, 2) to be convicted of various felony offenses and put in jail or worse, and 3) that the American people would want and deserve to do those things to me for gross negligence if not outright fraud, treason, and conspiracy. I would expect these things and maybe even being dragged from my car and ripped limb from limb by an angry mob. But I guess that's because I'm honest and responsible, and the unchallenged, unlawful behavior of the President, the Vice President, and many of their advisers is simply unfathomable to me - unfathomable that they would do these things, and unfathomable that our Senators and Reps. and Supreme Court Justices, and journalists and pundits, and power-elite-citizen lawyers would let them get away with it. IMHO, Americans need to start pointing the finger, blaming, and demanding justice for what these incompetent and unlawful people did to our country. About 120 Million American tax payers should want to see some high government officials in Washington (and where-ever else they slithered and roved off to) doing the perp-walk. The orange monkey-suited perp walk, right into a maximum security federal penitentiary.